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FAQs about Lionfish Feeding 2

Related Articles: Thiaminase and It's Role In Predatory Pet-fish (& Other Piscivores) Nutrition, by Marco Lichtenberger, Lionfish & Their RelativesKeeping Lionfishes and their Scorpaeniform Kin Part 1, Part 2, by Anthony Calfo and Robert Fenner, Dwarf Lionfishes, Feeding "Feeder" Goldfish,

Related FAQs: Lionfish Feeding 1, Lionfishes & their Relatives, Lions 2, Lions 3Lions 4Dwarf Lionfishes, Lionfish Selection, Lionfish Compatibility, Lionfish Behavior, Lionfish Disease, Feeding "Feeder" Goldfish,

A lion on the prowl in N. Sulawesi.

Scorpionfishes: Lionfishes & Much More for Marine Aquariums
Diversity, Selection & Care
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by Robert (Bob) Fenner

Feeder shrimp/ghost shrimp; and as Lionfish food    1/4/15
Hello everyone at WWM, I have a situation here. I had bought 60 feeder shrimp from reefs2go, nice size, for a Radiata lionfish I'm getting on Tuesday. I received the shrimp took them out of the bag and put them into a container acclimate them. As soon as the drip line started dripping the shrimp most of them (60) were crawling up and out of the container. I fixed
a lid on container took drip line off and did the 1/2 cup of saltwater every 10 minutes. Every time I opened the lid shrimp were crawling out of container so I just through the shrimp in tank. What a nightmare most of
them were trying to escape the tank.
<Makes sense if you're a little shrimp being thrown into a small aquarium with a deadly predator in there! More seriously, temperate zone (i.e., coldwater) shrimps will naturally "leap" out of overheating tidepools and the like in a bid to land in deeper, and consequently cooler, tidepools nearby. Makes sense if the body of water you're in is overheating and oxygen-poor, and very likely to dry up. In the wild this strategy makes a lot of sense, and has probably saved the butts of many shrimps over the years, but in an indoors aquarium it's clearly suicidal.>
55 gallon tall tank that's been running for over 3 years. Not much in there, but a pair of maroon clowns and a pair of green Chromis. Most of the shrimp were climbing out (not a tight cover on tank) my fish really weren't paying any attention to the shrimp. I called the place were shrimp were bought and the person on the phone said that "yes the feeder shrimp were
saltwater and didn't know why my shrimp were escaping told me to check water). I did, everything was good. QUESTION: Are feeder/ghost shrimp fresh or saltwater animals?
<Impossible to be sure. Assuming US retailers are getting the same sorts of shrimps as UK retailers, they're buying, in bulk, cheap shrimps caught in river estuaries and freshwater marshes. True saltwater shrimp are much more valuable as human food, and if you're going to the fuss of dredging a marine habitat to catch shrimp, you're going to sell them for the best
return aren't you? In the UK, the two species usually seen as "feeder shrimps" are Palaemon elegans and Palaemon serratus. They're small estuarine shrimps that tolerate freshwater for a few days and can live in brackish and marine conditions indefinitely, but will tend to jump out of tropical tanks after a while (they're much less jumpy in unheated tanks,
and actually excellent denizens for such tanks). I don't know the standard feeder shrimp in the US, but can state that a freshwater species, Palaemonetes paludosus, is regularly sold as such for both freshwater and marine aquaria. It can live in marine conditions for a while but not indefinitely, usually long enough to be eaten. This is the so-called "Grass Shrimp" of the US hobby. Identifying shrimp species is generally extremely difficult. Can I direct you to the Smithsonian report on freshwater Palaemonetes for example:
The collectors of your shrimps probably know what they are because only a small number of species will be found at any one locality, and typically just one or two predominate. But without knowing where yours were collected from, actually identifying a shrimp species will probably require expert (i.e., PhD-level) expertise.>
And how in the heck am I going to keep these live feeder shrimp to stay in and stay alive (if freshwater) in my tank long enough for the lionfish to catch and eat them?
<You really can't, short of a hood or mesh that keeps them in. As stated, temperate zone shrimps, especially those from truly coldwater areas, won't put up with tropical conditions for long. Their metabolism will be going too fast, and the oxygen availability will be too low, for them to feel at home.>
You can see I don't know what I'm doing with the feeder shrimp I never had them before? Thank you for your time and knowledge. Brenda
<Do consult with the retailer; ask they what the species was, where collected; describe your problems. If all else fails, try a few in brackish and freshwater conditions, at room temperature, and see which do best.
That'll be empirical evidence at least. Maintain thusly, and remove a few.

Krill and Lockjaw in Lionfish       3/9/13
Good evening!
<Not just quite here PST Brielle>
I am wondering what specific nutritional deficiency/problem that krill presents in a lionfish's diet.
<Most celebratedly Thiaminase... see WWM re>
 I would like to feed my lion pellets, but the second ingredient on most all pelleted foods I can find is krill. Would the pellets be okay as a staple food for him anyways?
<Look to the Spectrum line... and Hikari otherwise>
The primary ingredient is herring/fish meal. I also feed him jumbo Mysis shrimp soaked in Selcon and VitaChem. I certainly don't want to risk health problems with my antennata. Thank you so much for the advice!
<Do try/train this animal on "mixed seafood" that you can buy in parts in human food stores... Defrosted of course, on a feeding stick. Bob Fenner>
Re: Krill and Lockjaw in Lionfish       3/10/13
Thank you for the quick reply!
 I do have access to both NLS and Hikari.
I'd like to feed him more of a variety from the grocery store, but I read somewhere (can't remember where anymore) that these foods are not sterilized and may contain parasites. Is there any truth to this?
<Are frozen, and almost always expediently processed under "clean" conditions. I am not any more concerned than in dealing w/ foods prepared for my and others consumption. Very little chance of issues>
Thanks again! Little Bri
<Ahh! Welcome. BobF>

Volitans Lionfish Not Eating/Odd Behavior... a host of possibilities, influences      3/18/13
My volitans lionfish <http://www.thereeftank.com/forums/tags.php?tag=lionfish>
has refused food for the last three weeks and is constantly pacing back and forth in the aquarium; I have not seen him perched in over a week. I have offered him freeze-dried krill, frozen silversides, shrimp, scallops, squid,
<... likely a Thiaminase issue then...
See WWM re Lionfish feeding, this issue... the search tool, on every page. Very common w/ folks, Pteroines>
and live Rosie reds (a desperate, last ditch attempt), and have supplemented a number of these with Garlic Guard. He refused to acknowledge any of these. Usually I feed him raw shrimp, scallops, squid, and frozen silversides with occasional krill and I feed off a wooden kabob skewer. Yesterday he started circling at the top of the tank non-stop; when I placed the skewer in the tank, he ran into it without noticing it.
About the lion: he is approximately 8" and I have had him for a little over 6 months (he was around 5-6" at the time). I fed him daily and he was always an enthusiastic eater, except occasionally he would ignore food the day after tank cleaning. He has never needed live feedings and no fish in the tank bother him.
<Good point>
About the tank: 135 gallon long aquarium that has been set up for 7-8 months. Residents: 5" porcupine puffer, 5"
<This fish could be mal-influencing the Lion>

 Foxface, 5"
<And the Siganid might have poked it...>

 harlequin tusk, 4" lyretail hogfish, 3" flame angel, 3" coral beauty, and 1" black and white striped damsel. Everyone else is eating and acting normally (the puffer has started acting a little strangely but I think that is because the lionfish keeps running into him).
<Ahh, the Lion may be going blind... from too-bright light, avitaminoses...>
 I treated for Ich with copper
<Mmm, a factor>

 around 4 months ago and lost no fish (lionfish never had signs of Ich). My salinity was low last week (around 1.016)
<This could be a factor as well>

but over the course of a few days I raised it to 1.023, which is where it is now. Ammonia is 0, nitrites are 0, nitrates are a little high at 40,
<... and this>

 pH is around ~8.4, and temp is ~76F. I do weekly 20% water changes. My light was out for a few days last week, but has since been repaired. I have had no additions to the tank in the last 3 months.
Any suggestions would be great.
<Just your reading... you'll understand that what you have here is very likely the result of a simple long-term nutritional condition... IF the fish will resume feeding (a good chance); and fed suitable fare, it will survive>
I was thinking of trying Epsom salts in case it is a blockage, but I wanted your advice first!
<Bob Fenner>

Non feeding Lionfish - 10/27/2012
Hi WWM crew,
After good responses in the past I have decided as a last resort (in a good way) to contact you on the above problem.
About 6 months ago I took in a 6 inch Volitans Lionfish from a tank he had outgrown.
All was well till about 3 weeks ago when the hunger strike started.
I proceeded to read up on the subject and found it not uncommon for this to happen so didn`t worry too much.
As time went on I read more and I discovered that the food I have been primarily feeding (whitebait) has the enzyme Thiaminase present..
I was aware of this problem in the feeding of predatory fish but never realised whitebait was a bad food source. I had heard of it with regards to mussels and prawns. Also read your very good article on the subject. Basically I am wondering if this could have caused the non feeding problem and also is there anything that can be done.
<Just to switch to other foods post haste... possibly to force feed (careful!) this animal if need be>
A bit more information is as follows.
The fish has sat in his cave as normal and whereas before he came to the surface to be fed daily, he now does with increasing rarity.
He will often swim after the food then just swim away without eating.
He has also gone darker in his colouring.
He is housed with a Niger Trigger
<A poor choice of tankmates>
and a lively Regal Tang. These 2 fish don`t directly bother him but do stop him from feeding as they are so fast, if he doesn`t eat straight away.
it was fine before as he ate from hand.
I finally sourced some river shrimp
<These can also be a bad source of Thiaminase>
last Saturday but again trouble getting them to him. When I did he didn`t seem interested.
Thinking it may be the stress of his tankmates or possibly the bad diet ,I have managed to get him rehomed in a QT in The World Museum of Liverpool.
<Oh! Am headed that way in a few days... out visiting in Bristol currently>
Just 2 large Horseshoe crabs as tankmates.
He has only been there 24 hours and I have just heard he has again ignored live river shrimp and live Mysid shrimp.
I have given as much information as possible and was just wondering what your thoughts were and if there is anything else that could be done.
<I'd be reading here: http://wetwebmedia.com/lionfdgfaqs.htm
and looking into New Era pellets... the poss. of force feeding this fish.
Bob Fenner>
Re: Non feeding Lionfish - 10/27/2012

Thanks Bob.
I will forward this email to Paul at the museum and keep my fingers
Enjoy your trip.
<Thanks much Gary... am at Southwest Marines currently! Up to York in a few days. BobF>

Volitans Lionfish lockjaw, deficiency...      10/6/12
I read one other discussion on the topic of lionfish lockjaw, but was hoping to better understand a few details regarding how to go about treating this unfortunate situation. I have a 55 gallon FOWLR system with the following parameters: salinity:1.02, nitrates:0, .5 ammonia,
<Half a ppm of ammonia? Bad>
temperature:78 F, ph:8.2. I have one Volitans lionfish that has grown from a golf ball size to a cantaloupe size in roughly one year. He is very friendly and has learned to spit water at you to get a silverside. He is unfortunately been on a diet of krill and silversides.
<Not good>
I now realize I made a mistake feeding him the krill as he has developed what seems to be lockjaw (his mouth is open on the right and closed on the left). He will no longer eat and swims toward the food happily but gets frustrated, turns a dark red watches it sink to the bottom. I have decided to give him 7 days (I am currently on day 2) before I attempt to either adjust his jaw (how to begin is beyond me),
<Carefully... not to get stuck/stung, or break the joint>
or consider trying to fit some food into his mouth using a syringe. I just am at a loss as to what to do and would hate to watch him starve as he is such a friendly fish. I would love any creative ideas or a little bit of advice ( part of me says just to let it run it's course and try to find a humane way to euthanize him). Any advice would be very appreciated!
<Hard to fix at this point... due to nutritional deficiency... You could try adding HUFA/vitamin mix to the water... hoping... Sometimes this situation (miraculously) fixes itself. Bob Fenner>

Interesting Lionfish Feeding Tactic      9/23/12
Hello WWM Crew,
Wanted to pass a quick idea past your brains for picking! I am currently housing a fuzzy dwarf lionfish of about 2.5" in a 40b. Within the first week of him being introduced he has taken to eating frozen Mysis and krill from a feeding rod. I am feeding him a few of these every 3 days. He will attempt to eat anything I put on the rod, but spits out anything that doesn't look like a shrimp. No go on the squid, silversides, strips of fresh marine filet etc.
I was thinking tonight and thought I would try something - I used a small nail to drive a cavity through one of the krill, and then stuffed it with NLS Formula 1mm pellets - maybe 5-6 would fit in one krill. I then tried feeding and the lion took them as if nothing was different.
I know that feeding only krill/Mysis has potential to cause nutrition problems, lockjaw, etc.. I was curious if you felt that being stuffed with NLS (or some other small pellet of your choosing) would offset these issues?
<To some degree, yes. I would add a liquid prep. of vitamins and HUFAs (e.g. Selcon) to the food and the water weekly>
 They would certainly seem to make up for any nutrients not found in the plain krill, but I was not sure if there was some specific compound found in the Mysis/krill that caused the issues other than a simple lack of nutrients.
Thanks as always and hope all is well on your end,
<Thank you, Bob Fenner>

Flake eating Lions   3/27/11
Hi Crew!
Hope this mail find you guys in good health!
<Thank you>
I have a question regarding nutrition and diet of lion fishes. I know that many can't seem to get their lions to accept frozen food. However I'm proud to say that I've train all my lions to eat pallets and flake foods. Though of course it takes time and effort to move from live feeder to frozen food and now pallets and flakes. Took me almost 2months to train them. Each new lion undergoes solitary training until they readily accept flakes and pallets before joining the rest of the pack in the main tank. I have 9 lions.
<Quite a collection>
Can you tell me if I should just completely switch to pallets and flakes as its much cheaper and easier to prepare and feed?
will they be getting all nutrition they need?
<There are indeed some completely nutritious foods of both these formats. I would go w/ pellets over flakes for a few reasons, and am a big promoter of the Spectrum brand; as you'll find from perusing WWM. Indeed have seen Pablo Tepoot's Lions. Bob Fenner>

Lionfish Question: beh., fdg.   3/22/11
First of all, I would like to thank you n advance!
I have a lion fish that seems to be turning more reddish in color. He has always seemed to be more of a opal/grey sort of color.
Should I be concerned?
<Mmm, no, not necessarily. Often such colour changes are due to issues/influences of diet; not portent/s of disease>
The diet is mostly fresh raw shrimp, everyday or every other day, and occasionally live feeders.
<Mmm, both poor choices... Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/lionfdgfaq2.htm
and the linked files...>
I have had him/her for about three years.
In a 110 gal tank with six other fish. The lion is king'¦"Winning"!
<Pterois charliesheenii?>
Eyes are completely clear.
<Bob Fenner>

Lionfish variations, fdg.   11/30/10
Good evening,
<Howdy Dave>
I have a follow up question. I have access to an unlimited number of White Shrimp (Litopenaeus vannamei). Ranging from PL to adult. I imagine this would be a great food for lionfish. However, they have an extremely sharp rostrum. The rostrum has pierced me before and has drawn blood.
I assume they eat critters like this in the wild, but, do you think I would have an issue if I fed these to the lionfish all of the time?
<Unfortunately, I do.>
Increasing the risk? Or, would you do it without hesitation?
<I myself would not feed these, perhaps not even dead. Have seen/necropsied many Lions dead from "gut blockage" issues... I do think they might easily succumb from perforations from these rostra>
Doc Piscis
<Thank you, Bob Fenner>
Re: Lionfish variations
Once again, your expertise is greatly appreciated. That would have been a luxury to feed vannamei to lionfish, however, I will definitely follow your recommendation. I will not feed these to the lionfish.
Take care.
<And you my friend. BobF>

lionfish stop eating 4/21/10
I have had a 10 inch Volitans lionfish for about 2 years now. HE is in a 150 gallon with a 8 inch Hawaiian black trigger 1 6 inch Picasso trigger and a four inch undulated trigger.
<"Lions w/ Tigers and Bears oh my!" Too many too-aggressive tankmates here>
I feed them once every two or three days. salinity is 1.023, temp stays at 77, nitrates 10ppm, nitrites 0 and ammonia 0. I feed them a mix of silversides, krill, squid, shrimp, and clams. If this is too fatty, what are some less fatty alternatives?
<... read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/lionfdgfaq2.htm and the linked files above>
For the last 3 days, he has just been hanging out in this one spot when usually when I walk in he is swimming in the front of the tank wanting me to feed him. What could be wrong with him? This is the first time he has done this
<Perhaps stress alone, maybe a Thiaminase problem. Read where you are referred. Bob Fenner>

lionfish no eating, owner no reading  4/27/10
my lionfish hasn't eaten in 4 days. His stomach looks a little swollen and he has a piece of string bowel hanging out of his anus. It is 150 gallon fish tank. Water is perfect. I have had him for two years with a Hawaiian black trigger, undulated, and Picasso.
<Did you send this before? These fishes are too aggressive to have w/ a Lion>
Everyone gets along fine but I want to know if there is anything I can do because he might be constipated. I feed them mixed varieties of krill, squid, silver sides, shrimp, and clam strips. How can I help him pass the bowel and feel better?
<... Read, re-read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/lionfdgfaq2.htm
where your last email is archived... B>

Lionfish fasting 3/19/10
Hi there,
I've had a lionfish for about 2 years. He's been voracious for that entire time up until about two weeks ago. The store I bought him from was feeding him live fresh water feeders, since I have had him he has eaten only fresh/frozen supermarket fish and an unfortunate group of peppermint shrimp. He is roughly 9 or so inches in total length and in a 92 corner with a Kidako moray and a small male epaulette shark (about 10 inches,
<Ahh, much too crowded... physiologically and psychologically. The Moray and Shark may well get badly "poked" by the Lion here>
he is being grown out for a 800 gallon pond that currently houses two 24" females). Water parameters are near perfect (0,0, >20ppm) 76 degrees or so with ample filtration and regular water changes. Visually I can see no signs of disease or damage. His behavior has changed however; he used to react immediately by backing away if I approached too close to the tank, now he just kind of stares (eyes are not cloudy). He also spends a great deal of time resting on the bottom, and also "shovels", sticking his face out of the water at the surface. He has refused all food I've offered.
<... Psychological... crowding...>
I did some reading before writing you; I understand that feeding the same type of food for extended periods can cause intestinal blockage, which I think is likely at this point. I have had him on diced whole shrimp for perhaps a couple months for lack of squid/smelt/other foods. One of the remedies I found was a fresh water dip to evacuate the bowels... does this sound right?
Any help would be great.
Pat C.
<This fish needs to be moved elsewhere. I'd be returning it to the store.
Bob Fenner>
Re: Lionfish fasting -- 03/19/10

I've been writing you guys for almost as long as I've been keeping fish and always found you to be a valuable resource, so please forgive me for saying I don't find this response to be constructive at all... in your own article
on lionfish you suggest "30-40 gallons per adult Pterois"
<Mmm, an olde piece... For adults... a nine inch specimen, I'd allow a good 50-60 gal.s for its own in a large/r system>
and given that each of the three fish in this tank occupy a different section of the water column I did not see any issues, nor have I ever observed any signs of distress in any of them. I would assume that psychological issues develop over time; this manifested itself as if someone had flicked a light switch overnight.
I'm also not sure why you'd suggest returned this fish to the store I bought it at 2 years ago that, as I mentioned, was feeding it goldfish. If you felt it needs to be moved to a large tank, you could have said so.
<Please do>
I know you guys get a tremendous volume of emails, some of them from folks that cram appalling numbers of fish into frustratingly small tanks, and that WWM is a tremendous free resource build by passionate people like you
for curious people like me. I just feel that I'm being treated like a novice, and my question wasn't really answered. I'll try the freshwater dip, large water change and move him to my 180.
-Pat C.
<Thank you for this input. BobF>
Re: Lionfish fasting  4/1/10

Hi Bob,
Just to follow up- I did a FW dip with the lionfish. I used 3 gallons of spring water, floated them over night in the tank to bring them up to temperature and added stress coat. I dipped him twice for three minutes each time, with an hour in between. As of today he's eaten three times since the dip and appears to be returning to his old self. I did not see him defecate, so I'm not sure if he was impacted, or if it was some kind of internal parasite. I'm going to give him a month or so to recover fully and then move him to my 150.
Pat C.
<Thank you for this follow-up. BobF>

sick lion fish... lack of data, reading   -- 1/21/10
hi there. I am having a problem with my lion fish. He was over fed two weeks ago and now he wont eat ANYTHING. Its very unlike him. As far as his looks, he looks healthy, no sign of disease or anything, but his behavior has me worried. like I said, he has not eaten in two weeks, and he likes to stay in one remote area for most of his time now, instead of swimming around. I have also noticed that his gills are constantly flared or it
seems that he's having trouble breathing or something. I don't know, I'm so confused. I have had people come out and change the water, do whatever tests they do...and nothing. I'm lost. please help.
<We need more data than this. How big is the aquarium? What's the water quality like? And the water chemistry/salinity? Are there any other fish in this system? In terms of diet, most people cause problems with Pterois by feeding them "feeder fish", typically Goldfish and Minnows. It's no secret that ethically I'm against this, but when it comes to saltwater fish, the use of feeder fish goes beyond ethics and into bad husbandry. Bob Fenner
has written about how often Lionfish that have died prematurely turn out to have unnatural amounts of fat around their internal organs. And guess what, Goldfish and Minnows contain much more fat than the normal prey Lionfish
would eat. Indeed, Bob argues that feeder fish are likely a major, perhaps THE major, cause of premature mortality among the Scorpaeniform fish we keep as pets.
Marco Lichtenberger has recently summarised the danger posed by Thiaminase.
If predatory fish get too much of this enzyme in their diet, they suffer all sorts of problems cause by vitamin B1 deficiency. Guess what again, Goldfish and Minnows both contain lots of Thiaminase.
In short, there are no good reasons to use freshwater feeder fish when feeding Lionfish, and lots of scientific reasons why it's a bad idea. If you're deep of pocket, you might be able to use saltwater feeders such as
marine killifish, Cyprinodon spp., but why bother? In general, Lionfish can be weaned onto frozen foods more or less easily depending on the patience of the fishkeeper. They can go without food for a couple of weeks, so a
trial of wills is okay. Just so long as you win! More importantly, you need to offer a variety of prey. Feeding just one thing, such as prawns, would be daft. Alternative live or wet-frozen foods should be used through the
week, and part of the trick is training your pet to feed (from forceps) whatever you offer it. So, in short, review basic environmental conditions.
Lionfish are hardy, but they need big tanks (75 gallons upwards) with good water quality and stable water chemistry. These fish will lose their appetite if stressed. It goes without saying that if you dump half a dozen
feeder fish into the aquarium, you'll ruin water quality. Check you haven't been using the wrong type of food. Make sure you haven't been overfeeding.
And if you're weaning onto alternative foods, don't stick to just one thing, but offer a variety, and use forceps or a piece of cotton to dangle to food enticingly until the Lionfish bites. Cheers, Neale.>

Lionfish feeding  11/29/09
I was reading through the FAQ's on your site on how to improve my feeding methods once I get my lion, but I ran into some questions. I know freshwater feeders are a poor choice,
<More specifically, cyprinids are poor feeder fish, and anything bought from a pet store is very risky. Home-reared and gut-loaded saltwater and brackish water fish, such as livebearers and killifish are safe, but they're expensive, and so not really viable on that basis more than any other. Some aquarists relate increased aggression levels between Pterois and other predatory fish down to the use of feeder fish, though why this should be is a mystery to me at least.>
but I've read that mainly silversides are a poor choice too and in one post, one of your members said that the problem may have arisen from a diet purely consisting of frozen food. I planned to use a mix of squid, shrimp,
oyster or clam, and three different types of fish from my local market that I would clean, cut up into cubes and then put in the freezer-would this be okay?
<Yes; do read Marco's excellent article on Thiaminase, since that's the prime issue. Mussels and prawns are particularly rich in Thiaminase.
Tilapia fillet is a cheap and easily obtained source of white fish, and so far as I know, doesn't contain much Thiaminase at all. This is, among other things, what I feed my current predatory fish (two Ctenolucius hujeta
characins). But varying the diet is paramount, so that anything lacking in one food is made up for with another. In short, the more different things you offer, the better. Hand-feeding is a key step, though by this I mean through the use of forceps rather than fingertips. Once "trained", predatory fish will accept almost anything offered to them, so you can easily give them things they wouldn't normally take in the wild. The use of a vitamin supplement is a very good insurance policy, but stuffing Spirulina flake or a quality food like Hikari micro pellets into whatever meat is being offered works almost as well.>
Another one of your members said to have a varied diet is the best choice, but the other said 100% frozen=possible problems (but He/She did not emphasize on what the frozen food consisted of though). Thanks.
<It is certainly possible, indeed desirable, to wean all predatory fish onto an all-frozen diet. Hope this helps. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Dwarf Freshwater Puffers and Oscars 9/16/09
Thanks for all the tips on feeding! I bought some frozen brine for the Oscars and silversides for the lionfish. I don't have tweezers or forceps but I did try to carefully dangle a silverside at the water surface and Lucifer the Lionfish struck almost instantly.
<Glad to hear it! Now, mix things up as much as possible. The more variety you offer, the healthier your Lionfish and the less likely he will be to go on a hunger strike. Feel free to "gut load" the lancefish with some
Spirulina flake by ramming the flakes into the abdomen or mouth of the thing. Get the vitamins into the Lionfish that way, and you won't have much to worry about.>
Oscars are eating great now too. Thanks!
<You are most welcome. Cheers, Neale.>

Happy Update (Bob, do read and comment on Pterois if required)  09/24/09
Hey guys I just wanted to send a quick e-mail to say that I really appreciate a website like yours.
<I'm sure Bob and everyone else where will be please to hear this.>
I think your website is an amazing wealth of information not just to me, but to everyone in the hobby. I work at a LFS so every time I can't answer a question I refer them to this site.
Again I just thought I would right an email to let you guys know I have been following all the advice I find on the website and through asking questions. My Oscars are all growing and have healthy appetites and after only 2 weeks with them I can already tell their individual personalities.
<Wonderful fish for just this reason. Great "pets" in the full sense of the word.>
My lionfish is also greedily accepting frozen foods now without me having to make it seem alive.
<Victory! Yes, this is what happens once they "learn" that when you approach the tank, something edible appears. Instead of their feeding instinct being triggered by a wriggling live fish or whatever, it's triggered by seeing you.>
Since the 125 he resides in is so lonely looking now I am thinking of adding one of the more easy going triggerfish (Pinktail), and maybe some dwarf fuzzy lions.
<Bob might have comments to make here, but broadly, I'd keep Triggers away from Lionfish. The risk of nipping is just too great. Melichthys vidua is certainly a contender for the title of Most Placid Trigger, but still...
pushing your luck I fear. How about something less nippy but equally lively? Like a Hogfish? As for mixing Lionfish species, it's certainly possible, and some species are gregarious in the wild, but you need ample space for those species that are intolerant of conspecifics. It goes without saying that a big Lionfish might view a small one as food, with obviously fatal consequences for both parties!>
My only other tankmates I might consider are a maroon clown, or a bullseye Jawfish after I research the adult size on the later.
<Jawfish would be Lionfish food; Maroon Clown a gamble, and probably a risk one, even for a "friendly" Lionfish weaned onto other foods. Anything that can be swallowed, or even looks like it might be swallowed, will be swallowed. Lionfish are top predators in their habitat, and view small perciforms as food. Would suggest looking at Labrids, Hogfish, perhaps hardy Angels like French Angels as tankmates.>
Once again you guys are the best. Thanks! -Ray
<Cheers, Neale.><<I agree with you, your stmt.s Neale. RMF>>

Lion Question... fdg.  9/7/09
Hi again. Your help and advice has been extremely useful thus far. I now have an issue with a lionfish I purchased which I can't find the answer to.
It's regarding to him eating. I purchased a Volitans about 2 weeks ago from a store. He's about 6inches long. I did see him eat two bits of frozen prawn at the store. He was in a tank with 3 others around his size. When I took him home I acclimatised, not quarantined, him and fed him some more bits of prawn, at night with the lights out, over a couple of days, which he ate. Ever since, however, he refuses to eat anything I offer him. It's been about two weeks since his last meal. I tried frozen prawn, clam and squid and even put two mollies in there. He initially chased the mollies but then gave up. I can't seem to find ghost shrimp anywhere. He doesn't hide at all, but tends to sit on a rock all day long. The tank is around 550 litres with LR only. Filtration is more than required. His tank mates are a 5 inch harlequin tusk, 5 inch fox face and a 3 inch Picasso, none of which bully him, or that I have seen anyway.
<Won't necessarily see this... though is occurring>
All important water parameters are excellent, as confirmed by the store.
The temp. is set to 25 deg, of which I was told by the same store to raise it as high as 27? I have noticed very slightly "cloudy" eyes with minor scratches(?) on them, but nothing that looks too serious.
<Mmmm, what re water quality test results? In particular nitrate readings>
The store is kind enough to either exchange it or offer store credit. Is it worth the hassle of going through this whole ordeal again, or should I be patient and not give up?
<I urge patience>
My thoughts are he is still acclimatising, or is full, or is actually being bullied when I'm not around. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
Apologies for the lengthy email but I've tried to include as much info as possible.
Kind regards,
John Catanzariti
<Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/lionfdgfaq2.htm
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Lionfish not eating -- suggestions? Reading    8/19/09
Hi, crew. I'm having an issue with my lionfish. I know that they can go on "hunger strikes" but I'm seeing an odd specific behavior that I wanted to consult you guys about.
<Did you read before writing?>
I have a 120 gallon reef tank. Vital stats as follows: Temp ~ 80 (fan over the water full-time); pH ~ 8.1; salinity ~ 1.025; Ca ~ 350; Alk ~ 3.5 meq/l; PO4, NO3 ~ 0.
<Zip? Really? How? Chemical filtrant may be at fault here>
I run a sump with a Euro-Reef skimmer (forgot the model, but it's the recommended size for the water volume), activated carbon in a fluidized bed filter, and have a small refugium. Lighting is 8x54w T5 (10K and AquaBlue).
Circulation is via a 1270 gal/hr pump, plus a VorTech pump.
Inhabitants are a yellow tang, barred ("dragon") goby, Christmas wrasse, a few damsels, a long-nosed Hawkfish, starry blenny, and a Radiata lionfish.
I have what I now know to be an unfortunate collection of corals (hence the carbon...): frogspawn, green star polyps, a leather, a Galaxea, plus a random assortment of yellow and button Zoanthids and Palys, plus some random mushrooms.
<These might be "warring", poisoning the system, but...>
There's also a fair amount of xenia in there (a few different varieties) plus a rather unhappy Montipora capricornis.
One significant thing is that I have been battling a bad Bryopsis outbreak -- like, it has taken over the tank -- and have tried lots of different approaches: reducing feeding, Phosban,
<I would discontinue the use of this material>
increasing pH, and, most recently, increasing magnesium. I brought levels up to about 1800.
<And this... way too high in proportion to Ca... should be about three times... as much>
Perhaps I did this too fast, because...
A little over a week ago, I noticed a sudden change in the health of the tank. The Montipora bleached badly; the frogspawn was retracted; and the lionfish was hiding in the corner (unusual). No other critters seemed affected. I did an immediate 20 gallon water change which seemed to stabilize the corals. I have since done another one, and will do a third tonight
<Likely the disproportionality>
Now, for the lion: he spent about three days in the corner acting very lethargic. Usually, right about lights-out, he starts patrolling the reef looking for food. He didn't leave his cave. He also usually "alerts" when I open the lid of the aquarium, waiting for food (he gets a krill, or a piece of shrimp, scallop, or squid, about three times per week).
<This is a problem too... These foods are too fatty as a steady diet>
Feedings ten and seven days ago, he never even noticed the presence of the food. Just sat there. A few days ago, he came out at feeding time, "hunted" the krill (his favorite), but his feeding strike was very weak, not nearly enough to "suck in" the food. He did the same this morning. He "cornered" the krill, waving his fins and tail, looking eager; closed to feeding distance; and then did this little "kiss" strike. Then, swam away.
Does this sound at all familiar?
We absolutely adore this fish, and don't want to lose him.
<Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/lions&rels.htm
and the linked files above... and the subjects I mention... search and read re them on WWM. Your problems are iatrogenic; self-induced. Bob Fenner>
Re: Lionfish not eating -- suggestions?  8/20/09

Thanks for your prompt reply and the valuable information. I was hoping to clarify a few points, if I may.
> Hi, crew. I'm having an issue with my lionfish. I know that they can go on "hunger strikes" but I'm
> seeing an odd specific behavior that I wanted to consult you guys about.
> <Did you read before writing?>
Yes, I'm actually an avid reader of WWM. Since I got your reply last night, I re-read most of the lionfish feeding and disease FAQs just to be sure.
<<I see; good>>
> NO3 ~ 0.
> <Zip? Really? How? Chemical filtrant may be at fault here>
I have never had measurable nitrate in my tank, post-cycle (at least, it's well under 10 -- I haven't gotten a high-sensitivity test). It could be my 4" DSB with plenum; or the algae in the tank is scavenging all available nitrate and phosphate(?).
<<Thank you for this. As you know, high NO3 by itself can be a "cause" here>>
> One significant thing is that I have been battling a bad Bryopsis outbreak -- like, it has taken over the tank -- and have tried lots of different approaches: reducing feeding, Phosban,
> <I would discontinue the use of this material>
I did as soon as I started seeing the problems.
> increasing pH, and, most recently, increasing magnesium. I brought levels
> up to about 1800.
> <And this... way too high in proportion to Ca... should be about three times... as much>
This was a deliberate action after reading the numerous success stories on Reef Central regarding the use of increased magnesium to combat Bryopsis.
I recognized that this was out of "norm" but the anecdotal evidence was strong (and others reported no detrimental effects to their corals/fish).
<<Did this work for you?>>
> [the lionfish] gets a krill, or a piece of shrimp, scallop, or squid, about three times per week).
> <This is a problem too... These foods are too fatty as a steady diet>
This is the main point I wanted clarification on. I chose this diet when I got the fish (about two years ago) based on suggestions from WWM. Upon re-reading the FAQs, this is the sort of diet suggested by many of your crew ("various meaty foods of marine origin"). I have tried adding silversides to the rotation, but the lion doesn't like them as much as the others. What specific changes would you make to this diet?
<<Wean the fish off the fatty foods... try adding some other cut or whole marine fish to the diet>>
> A few days ago, he came out at feeding time, "hunted" the krill (his favorite), but his feeding strike was very weak,
> not nearly enough to "suck in" the food... Does this sound at all familiar?
> <Yes...>
I read the FAQs but never saw this particular issue described. There were several instances of jaw maladies where jaw
breakages/dislocations/"lock-jaw" were noted, but I haven't seen that with my fish. Others described their lionfish being completely uninterested in food, but I'm not seeing that here.
<<My experience is broader than what is presented in writing>>
Aside from continued water changes (did another 20 gal this morning) and stopping the chemical filtration (done a week ago), do you have any specific recommendations as to how to proceed?
<<Nothing that is novel. I might try a feeding stimulant/soak on any offered foods... vitamins, HUFA mix>>
Best regards, and thanks again for your time.
<<And you for yours Dan. BobF>>
Re: Lionfish not eating -- suggestions?  8/21/09

> [Re: Mg at 1800+]
> This was a deliberate action after reading the numerous success stories on Reef Central regarding the use of increased magnesium to combat Bryopsis. I recognized that this was out of "norm" but the anecdotal evidence was strong (and others reported no detrimental effects to their corals/fish).
> <<Did this work for you?>>
Hard to say. The Bryopsis has declined over the weeks/months due to diligent manual removal, a decrease in feeding, phosphate removal, etc. I started seeing problems with my tank as the Mg levels got to "target" levels (1700-1800), and I immediately initiated water changes, so it's really tough to say one way or the other the effects of this particular component. In short, the approach was not very scientific. I will continue with the manual removal and nutrient deprivation approaches until I get things stabilized.
> [the lionfish] gets a krill, or a piece of shrimp, scallop, or squid, about three times per week).
> <This is a problem too... These foods are too fatty as a steady diet>
Based on my culinary experience, shrimp, scallop, and squid are very difficult to cook correctly, presumably due to their *low* fat content. An internet search confirmed this: shrimp, scallop, and squid have about 1.4g/fat per 3.5 oz serving. For comparison, this is about the same as cod, haddock, flounder, sole, or snapper; and about a quarter (or less) that of swordfish, tuna, or salmon; and 2-3 fold less than chicken breast.
In short, they are about the least fatty marine foods available -- perhaps they have the wrong (non-HUFA) fats?
<Are more concentrated with fats that are harder to digest than fish flesh>
I will write back when I have definitive results with my lionfish. Next feeding attempt will be tomorrow.
Thanks again,
<Do try some live ghost shrimp if all else is being refused. B>

Lionfish Blindness: Lionfish Health, Feeding, and Lighting 8/11/2009
<Hi George>
I have an 8" Volitans Lionfish. I have had him for approx. 10 months. He has always displayed normal behavior. For the last 2 weeks he has been very finicky and has been eating very little.
<Feeding strikes aren't uncommon, what are you feeding him?>
The last 4 days he wont eat. Now he is swimming erratically especially at the top of the tank and he is running into the glass and other objects in the tank. He appears that he can not see.
<Lionfish blindness has a few possible causes:
1. Poor Diet
2. Intense lighting
3. Old Age\Cataracts (Aggravated by the first two causes)
Follow this link - there has been much written about this subject:
959445250520 >
He does not respond to me. His color has darkened, other than that I don't see any other physical changes. I have checked all of the water parameters and they are all normal. Nothing has changed in the tank and all the other fish appear fine. We lost a lionfish last year at about the same age. He was displaying this same behavior before he died. I can not find a vet in the area with any knowledge of lionfish. Is there anything you can suggest?
We really don't want to lose another Lion.
<Do read the above linked files>
Re: Lionfish Blindness: Lionfish Health, Feeding, and Lighting 8/13/2009

Hi Mike,
<Hi George.>
Thank you for your response.
<My pleasure.>
We have been feeding him silversides and thawed frozen shrimp. About a month ago he began rejecting the silversides, so he has been eating only the shrimp. We also supplement with fish solutions, although only on non feeding
days. We have been feeding every other day.
<May want to try some different foods - squid, perhaps some clam.>
The lionfish is only about 1 1/2 years old, so I don't think it's due to old age.
After watching him the last few days, I am convinced he can not see. He is running into everything.
<If it is nutritional, the blindness can be at least partially reversed.
How much lighting is in the tank?>
He is also sticking his head out of the water like he is trying to get air, but there is plenty of aeration in the tank and none of the other fish are displaying abnormal behavior.
<Hmm....... what do your water tests reveal?>
I will read the link and we are open to any other suggestions you may have.
<Keep the lights dim for a couple of days, do look into soaking foods in Selcon - a very good vitamin supplement.>
Thank you.
Re: Lionfish Blindness: Lionfish Health, Feeding, and Lighting 8/19/2009

Hi Mike,
<Hi George, I apologize for the delay in getting back with you, I was sent out of town on business.>
We only use the actinic lights in the tank, so it's not bright.
<Hmm... I wonder......Actinic lighting is actually more for our benefit than for anything in the tank. I would try to get this fish under some regular light as well.>
I have stepped up using the "Fish Solutions" supplement every day.
He won't eat anything. I tap him on his mouth with the shrimp and he just backs away.
<Not a good sign.>
The water test are all perfect. The only one that is up a little is nitrate, but that's only 15-25 and this is a fish only tank, so that should not be too high.
<I agree.>
The big problem is his blindness. I don't think he is going to eat because of it. I think this is the same thing that happened to our last lion. He finally starved to death after about 7 weeks without eating.
It is strange to us that both lions appear to have the same behavior after about the same amount of time in the tank. Since the ammonia, ph, nitrate, nitrites and salinity are fine, and all the other fish are fine, I can't imagine it is the tank, but it makes me wonder. Is there something else I should check?
<Beyond using some real light - something in the 6700 - 10000K range, no.>
I have noticed a lot of small white worms, very thin smooth red worms and large bristle worm in my fuge. Also, what appears to be a large blob of red algae. Is any of this harmful?
<Not harmful - actually signs of a healthy fuge.>
For now I have disconnected the fuge from the tank until I know. None of the other fish are displaying any abnormal behavior.
<Try some real light and see if that helps. Also keep up with nutritious foods.>
Thanks again,

Re: Help! Is my tank to big for lionfish to see food?, Feeder Fish 8/18/09
Hey Chris, thanks for the quick reply!
Well my water parameter are good, both ammonia and nitrate and nitrate are showing 0 and also there are two Clownfishes in it.
<Ok, but if the clowns are small enough to fit in the lion's mouth they will eventually become expensive lion food.>
The thank has been cycling for a month plus already before purchasing the fu Manchu. Well I did what you said and I tried using ghost shrimp and it works!
<Good, now to start training him on non-live foods.>
Thanks a lot for the fast and efficient reply! For the fish colouring, its pretty strong and bold, no pale colouring or whatsoever. When I first placed him in the tank 5 days ago, he straight away retreated into the rocks for shelter but no less then 2 hours later he emerged and was pretty much exploring and he wasn't affected by my presence.
One thing I would like to clarify is , is it possible to place another dwarf fuzzy lionfish in?
<Not in this sized tank.>
I`m truly in love with lionfish and would love to set up an all lionfish tank. Cheers and thanks a lot Chris!
<Would have to be a good sized tank with oversized filtration to handle multiples for these relatively messy fish.>
Re: Help! is my tank to big for lionfish to see food? 8/18/09

Hey Chris, thanks again for the fast reply!
Anyway, as you said, my clownfish disappear, but I have no idea if its my octopus or lionfish, I just placed the octopus inside yesterday cause my other tank wasn't ready yet, anyway, what size tank would you recommend if I wish to keep a total of 3 lionfish?
<I would go with a 100G as the bare minimum for 3 dwarf lionfish. Careful with the octopus, you may end up with no fish pretty quick and a dead octopus on your floor after he leaves the tank.>
Re: help! is my tank to big for lionfish to see food? 8/18/09

Would the octopus eat the lionfish?
<Unlikely put possible.>
Doesn't the lionfish sting affect the octopus?
<Don't underestimate the craftiness of the highly intelligent octopus.>
The octopus is really small, the mantle is about 1 and a half inch, the lionfish is 3 inches.
<Ever seem the video of the octopus attacking and killing sharks in the public aquarium? Not saying this will definitely happen here, but there is a reason most people keep octopus in dedicated tanks that are well sealed
to prevent escape.>

LIONFISH NOT EATING, reading    7/11/09
Thanks in advance for all your help.
I have a volitans lion that has been in the 75g tank with 80lbs liverock for about 8 months. He been hand fed since about 1 month in the tank, scallops, and raw shrimp primarily cut up into small pieces.
<Mmm, too fatty a diet...>
While I was out of town for the weekend of May 30, a palm sized Sailfin tank in the tank totally disappeared. Not on the floor, or anywhere in the tank. There is a hermit crab in the tank and a sand star.
<These may have consumed a good deal of the Zebrasoma...>
The only other fish in the tank are the lion, about 5" long and a snowflake eel about 12" long.
<Not these>
The tank is as escape proof as I could make it due to the eel. I think the tang was too large for the lion to eat but he hasn't eaten since then.
He will swim up to food and attempt to suck the piece in briefly but won't eat it or take it in his mouth. Last week I tried live ghost shrimp but no luck. Today I tried ghost shrimp and feeder fish.
<A poor idea...>
He chases them around the tank, lunges at them but doesn't take them in.
It seems that it may be
lockjaw but I couldn't find how to treat it in the FAQs. Please advise.
<Please read: http://wetwebmedia.com/lionfdgfaqs.htm
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

I added Iodine supplement to the tank after 50% water change. How can I force feed the fish? I've searched the FAQs with no luck. I have frozen mysis that I could make into a slurry and inject in mouth with tube and syringe, but didn't know if I should attempt to pry his mouth open to get the tube in. Any tips (other then avoiding the spines and minimizing time out of the water)?
<Go here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/WWMAdminSubWebIndex/question_page.htm
In the search tool put in the string:
Force feeding fish
Read the cached views. RMF>

Lionfish question 5/17/09
I have a lionfish that hasn't eaten in 8 days and is losing his color.
<Was he eating previously or is he a new addition?>
The stripes on his sides are turning white and I have tried frozen krill and silversides to no avail. I would try live food but between my Niger trigger, dogface puffer and porcupine puffer they don't stand a chance.
<Tankmates may very well be the issue here, what size tank is this?>
Is there any medicated drops I can put in the water.
<Even if we could diagnose an ailment to treat the fish would need to be removed to a separate quarantine tank. For the time being I would move the
fish to a less aggressive setting and try some live food, weaning it to frozen once it is eating fine.>
I don't have another tank to put him in so I was hoping there was something I can do with the tank I have him in now. Please help.
<Not really. You could always partition off part of the tank for him, but it is best to find a more suitable home for the lionfish.>
<Scott V.>

Can I add food coloring to food for finicky lion fish
Finicky Lionfish- Better Red Than ??? (Feeding Issue) -- 04/07/09

Hey, thanks for everything you do.
<Glad to be here for you! Scott F. in tonight.>
Long time lurker, first time writer. My lionfish will only eat the red colored food found in the frozen variety
packs of fish food.
<Really? Interesting...>
I would like him to eat the squid, scallops, or shrimp I purchased from the market, but he ignores any food that is not red. I have tried holding off till he is good and hungry, but to no avail. I want to add red food coloring to the other foods, but my wife thinks that would be a very bad idea.
<I have a better idea. Read on.>
Would food coloring do harm to the lion or other inhabitants of the tank? Thanks in advance.
<Well, Henry, couldn't say one way or another if food coloring is good or bad, but I say, why bother? You can "color" food red with a really great nutritional supplement, Boyd Vita Chem. This stuff is red in color, and is a very good product that I have used for years. I soak foods like mysis, chopped seafoods, brine shrimp, etc. in this stuff for about 10-15 minutes or so until it soaks into the food, imparting a red color to the food! As far as your Lionfish's apparent fixation on red- I couldn't begin to guess why. Is there some visual clue, or perhaps it's simply coincidence that the foods he/she is attracted to happen to be red in color? Who knows? All I can tell you is that you should definitely try to get the fish to eat a variety of foods of marine origin, and if the Vita Chem soak satisfies the fish's red "fetish", go for it! Hope this helps! Regards, Scott F.>

Lionfish Health\Feeding 4/3/2009
Hi Guys
<Hi Peter>
Just looking at your site and was checking some of the other peoples blogs, but can you help me?
<Will certainly try>
I have been keeping marines for about 12 months, I started with a very small 2 foot tank. My water parameters have always been okay. Ammonia 0 Nitrite 0 PH 8.2 and sal 1.024, however I have always
struggled to keep my nitrates down. I moved to a bigger tank 180 ltr and I still have the problem with the nitrates, they are at 40 - 50 ppm, tried 10% changes every other day.
<What else is in the tank with it?>
In the new tank (set up in Dec 2008) I have about 4 inches of coral sand and about 40 - 50 kg.s of live rock, I run a V2 400 protein skimmer a Fluval 205 ex filter, and a power head. The filter has reefresh20
just added, Rowa-phos, carbon and sponge filter. I have 2 blue hermits and 6 Turbos, and a recently purchased fuzzy dwarf lion fish. He seems not to be eating, been in there since Sat, 28th March. I was told he was feeding fine on frozen shrimp although I never saw him feeding, but they are a reputable dealer recommended by fishkeeper mag.
<I wouldn't worry too much unless the feeding strike goes over 10 days.
You may try feeding with the lights off.>
He has 2 clouded eyes, since Wednesday.
<Usually water quality\Diet\Injury. Read here:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/liondisfaqs.htm >
He swims about when the light off which I thought was norm. But hides upside down in a cave when the light comes on, again I thought this the norm.
<Is normal, they can, with time, become more active during the day>
Are the water parameters the problem, and if so do you have any ideas other than water changes to get the nitrates down?
<Need more information regarding what else is in the tank, how much and how often the tank is fed, etc.>
I have lost fish before (velvet) and I had a nasty feeling it was the nitrates but I am not sure.
<Poor water quality can make fish more susceptible to disease, but it did not cause Velvet..
I was on the verge of giving up at one point, due to losing my fish ( very disheartening seeing fish die) and I don't wish it to happen again, well not unnecessary. Please can you give me any advise, I have spoken to a number of dealers, and other than the water changes they can't help, is it due to the coral sand as there is a lot?
<If it is trapping a large amount of uneaten food and\or fish waste, it can. There has been much written on this subject. I suggest you start here:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/nitratesmar.htm >
Oh the dwarf is not eating yet either tried frozen shrimp, and frozen brine shrimp, I really don't want to go down the live fish road unless I have to.
<Try some live brine shrimp with the lights turned down>
Kind regards
Peter Findler
<My Pleasure>
Re: Dwarf Lionfish Health\Feeding 4/8/2009

Hi Mike
<Hi Peter>
Thanks for your reply, much appreciated. I did a check on the water with just the salt added, 0ppm, so I take it that cycle is loaded with nitrates?
<Hmm.... Possible, seems unlikely though. In any case, in a properly set up tank, it is not necessary.>
Anyway I will only use it when I do a major water change. One other question if you could help me.... how do I wean the fuzzy off the Neons and onto frozen food?
<As soon as possible>
I have tried offering frozen shrimp ( raw ) as he now comes to the surface when I open the lid, but he does not seem interested.
<It does take time. You can try mixing a little 'dead" food with the live and see if he takes it, or put it at the end of a stick and jiggle it so it seems alive.>
Although if someone offered me a pizza when I had been getting steak, I would probably do the same. He is doing fine though and he is keeping a close eye on my blue hermits.
<Excellent news.>
Regards Peter
<My pleasure, Mike>

Lionfish Health\Stocking\Feeding 3/27/2009
Thanks Mike,
<Hi Elise, my pleasure.>
Actually, the damsels and clowns steer clear of him.
<Fair enough, but do keep an eye out, Damsels do tend to get aggressive with age.>
I forgot to ask for a little advice on diet. I've been trying to research this, and the only thing I'm sure of is what NOT to feed him (feeder goldfish!).
<Very true.>
He seems willing to eat anything, and I'd like to vary his diet beyond the cubed stuff and krill.
<The Lionfish will appreciate that.>
Should I be going to the seafood section of my supermarket and getting him whatever marine fish they have there?
<Usually the best place>
Like shrimp, tuna, Mahi Mahi? I've read nothing oily, but I don't know what's oily and what's not.
<Uncooked, peeled shrimp, scallops, clams, octopus or squid if they have it. Salmon tends to be oily, Basically, anything uncooked and fit for human consumption is fine.>
Should I head down to the beach and scavenge for whatever crustaceans I can find?
<Please don't, this runs the risk of introducing disease\parasites into your tank.>
Thanks again

Lionfish with hole in lower jaw... nutr. deficiency   1/29/09 I am in need of some help with my Dwarf Lionfish. I have a 210 gallon system. I have had the Lionfish for approximately 8 months. When I first got him the only thing I could get him to eat were ghost shrimp. I eventually got him to eat thawed krill. <These are insufficient nutritionally> He has been growing & doing great until....about a month ago he completely quit eating. <Bingo> I have always fed him his food from a small net. As soon as I would put the net in the tank he was right there ready to pounce. Now....nothing. He swims away from the net as if it is annoying him. I kept trying everyday, unsuccessfully, to feed him & then noticed last week that he has a hole in his lower jaw! I can see right through it & it is about the circumference of a pencil. The skin around the hole looked normal until today. It now has small dark red spots around the edge of the hole. Kinda looks like when we scratch our skin & it gets little spots of blood. I went and got some ghost shrimp today. At first he seemed annoyed. A couple ghost shrimp got away then he appeared to go after one. I couldn't tell if he got it or not since I was standing on a step stool, looking at his reflection in the glass. My tank is a custom build into the wall between my kitchen & living room so you can see through it. It is only accessible from the kitchen side & he likes to hang out on the other side. I have searched & can't find any info on what might be wrong with him. Is it possible he tore the skin on the live rock? <Mmm, yes... but the lack of color, flesh on the head is telling...> Or does it sound like disease? <Yes... a nutritional deficiency> I am pretty ignorant when it comes to knowing my about my system. We started it up 8/2007. All maintenance is done by LFS. I am slowly learning as we go. A couple weeks ago my nitrates went crazy (80+) <This also...> we discovered that all of the algae in the refuge was turned to mush! But before that everything was fine. We have cured that problem with water changes & the new algae is thriving. But I am still very concerned about my lionfish. Any help is greatly appreciated! Leigh W. <Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/lionfdgfaqs.htm and the linked files above. This fish is missing vital (necessary) nutrients... is suffering from a long lack of same. Bob Fenner>

Choking cardinal   1/10/09 Hi marine gurus, <Yo!> Small problem here. I want to train my newly acquired lionfish to accept frozen food, so I put a small piece of frozen krill in my tank, and to my surprise, my pajama cardinal chomped it down, except it didn't fit and an hour later the head is still sticking out of the cardinal's mouth. He doesn't seem to be terribly uncomfortable, but I'm wondering if I should help him out. <I would not... more likely to cause damage> Should I net him, and try to pull the krill out with tweezers? <I would not> (By the way, I do know that I will need to move the cardinal to another home at some point, but for now I think it's OK, the lionfish is very small, and the cardinal quite big). Thanks in advance, Elise <Mmm, very likely the food will go one way or the other, and the Apogonid will end up in the Pteroine. Bob Fenner>
Re: choking cardinal, and Lionfish nutrition/feeding  1/13/09
Thanks, Bob, you were right. The krill was gone in about a day. I do have a concern about the lion, I've been searching but can't find a specific answer. His tail has what looks like a hole or a tear, it was small at first, but it's bigger every day. Now it looks like there was a big bite taken out of the back of the tail, though I know that's not it. (He's housed with a couple damsels <Mmm, what sort of Damsel species?> and the cardinal). I would suspect parasites, but it's just in this one specific spot. I've been trying to train him on frozen foods, but no luck yet. I've given him a feeder goldfish a couple of times a week, <... need to have go w/o food for a few weeks perhaps> which he devours. He doesn't seem distressed. Thoughts? thanks! Elise <Is living (for a while) on the goldfish... Please read on WWM re this. BobF>

Lionfish Choking  12/25/08 Hopefully by the time you read this, the Lionfish will have swallowed/spit out the piece of krill, but if not, then it will probably be in dire trouble. My Volitans Lion is pretty young, only about five inches, and I've had it for several months now. Usually I feed it ghost shrimp and the occasional black molly, and I've only tried frozen food a few times. This Christmas week, not having the time to go out and buy food for the lion, I fed it some frozen krill, which I have fed it twice before with some success. However, this time its second piece <Mmm, too much... one piece every few days is sufficient here> was a bit too big and it appears to be choking. Usually it will swallow it after five minutes or so, but this has been in its mouth for almost an hour, and while its thrashings have lessened, it still continues to, you know, thrust its mouth out. It's breathing is very heavy and it already has another piece of krill in its stomach. It isn't 'belly up' spasming on the floor yet, but I am nevertheless concerned as this has never happened before. Because it is Christmas (Merry Christmas by the way, I love your site) you probably won't see this until after this problem has passed, but what is your opinion. I've read your other articles which say to remove the food with tweezers if the situation gets desperate, but I don't know if my situation is bad or not-the piece of krill has a tiny bit of it sticking out of the Lion's mouth, just an antenna-thing, and I can still see the krill's black eye in the lion's mouth. It's mouth is normal, although at first the inner part was still unfolded. Thanks for the help. <Mmm, that this fish is still with you/us after an hour or so... is indication that it will likely survive. I would not try extracting the krill here... much more likely to damage the fish... and/or yourself. Happy holidays. Bob Fenner>
Re: Lionfish Choking  12/26/08
Thank you so much for your prompt reply, and luckily my volitans did survive. <Yay!> And actually that second piece was meant for my other larger lion who ended up not getting his dinner after all. <Ahh!> Happy Boxing Day! <And to you and yours... BobF, who's having a Boxing Day party later this eve>

Help (Pterois; not eating) 12/20/08 my lion fish wont eat. uv filter 125 gallon wet dry. sting ray , purple tang, Koran angel and damsel. He ate a damsel (back white stripe) a week ago. <Why did he eat a Damselfish? Do you feed live fish to this Lionfish deliberately? That's extremely unwise. The use of freshwater feeder fish (minnows and goldfish for example) is now widely believed to cause serious harm to marine predators, so I'm assuming you haven't used those. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/goldfshfd.htm But even saltwater fish have the possibility of introducing parasites and bacteria. Any fish "cheap" enough to be viable as a feeder fish is not likely to be kept under the best of conditions. Many marine fish -- including damsels -- also have sharp spines, and if not swallowed in just the right way can cause problems, especially if the size of prey offered is wrong for the size of the predatory fish being kept. If you think about small children choking on peanuts, you'll understand the basic problem, even though this analogy isn't reflecting precisely what's happening. Do see Bob's article on Pteroids generally to read up on feeding Lionfish and their allies. In captivity it isn't at all difficult to get these fish eating frozen foods, and the more varied that diet, the better. The commonest mistake is overfeeding: like all predatory fish, these animals are easily given far too much food. Wild fish likely go days without a meal, and even if it takes a couple weeks to train your Lion to take frozen food, that will do it no harm whatsoever.> Ate some not much. Now wont eat. <There are three things to consider here: disease, environmental problems, and social behaviour. First up, reflect on its previous feeding regime. If you've been using feeder fish, then organ damage (from the fat in goldfish/minnows) is possible, especially if this fish is, say, a couple of years old. Feeder fish can introduce parasites and bacteria of various types, to observe the fish for sings of abnormal swelling, unusual faeces, lethargy, and so on. If you've offered the same type of food week after week, monotony can set in, and the animal will simply be bored. Secondly, review the environment in terms of water quality and water chemistry. Heavy use of feeder fish is particularly likely to cause higher than normal amounts of nitrogenous waste. I'm a fan of "a little, but often" feeding of predatory fish rather than bulk feeding once a week. But either way, the point is that if you're offering lots of food, every day, then water quality is very likely to be poor. Finally, social behaviour. Lionfish generally expect to be "top dog" but can be bullied by the usual suspects: triggers, pufferfish, angels, some surgeons. Have you added anything new? Are any fish getting particularly big or territorial now? If the Pterois feels put upon, he's likely to react negatively.> The ray and he have always snuggled. <Sounds dangerous, snuggling up to anyone covered with venomous spines! I'm worried your tank is overstocked. You have a LOT of animals in a 125 gallon system (I'm assuming US gallons, rather than Imperial gallons, so about 470-odd litres). Again, review water quality and chemistry.> They are doing so still. I added a Koran angel. <Adding new fish when you're already dealing with a problem isn't a good idea.> Seems everything is fine but he wont eat. He usually eats shrimp brine, squid, and spot. <What's "spot"? Brine shrimp, by the way, are useless. Bob calls them "popcorn" for fish. Certainly, they don't contain any useful nutrition. Fine as a treat, in particular as a boost of roughage to avoid constipation, but shouldn't be a major source of food.> Wont touch anything. i am worried. ph normal. <Salinity? RedOx? Alkalinity? There's more to marine fishkeeping than pH, and what do you mean by "normal" anyway? We need numbers!> Thank you for help. did water change clean filter everyone else eats. He tracks then acts like he make a play for it then stops? Thank you. <Cheers, Neale.>
Re: help (Pterois; not eating) (RMF, am I being too hard here?)<<Umm, no. RMF>> 12/22/08
Your info is a lot of help. <Happy to oblige.> No on the cheap feeders. <My point is that you shouldn't use feeder fish at all. Ever. Too many risks and problems, no tangible benefits.> I have 5 fish. lion he has gotten large. ray small. <Small at the moment. Few species have a disc width of less than 60 cm, and the majority are much, much bigger. You WILL need a bigger tank within the next few months. Do please understand that Stingrays do not do well in captivity; or more specifically, they are FAR less tolerant of crowding and poor water quality than bony fish. This holds for both freshwater and saltwater rays. Even a 200 gallon tank is only a temporary home for a small specimen, and successful ray-keepers keep them in tanks around 500 gallons in size. That's just not realistic for most hobbyists, hence the consistent advice here that generally people avoid saltwater rays.> puffer ( star n stripes) small. <Won't be small for long. Again, this is a massive fish when mature, easily a good 35-40 cm in length. While hardy in itself, it's messy and can be snappy, and in a cramped aquarium can, will molest more delicate species. Pufferfish certainly will bully or nip at Lionfish, as improbable as that might sound.> Koran angel, small juvenile. tang, purple with yellow fins, med size. <Do remember fish don't come in "sizes", they come at different ages. An Angelfish or Tang that's 10 cm/4 inches now will be a full-grown adult a year from now. In the case of a Pomacanthus semicirculatus, the Koran Angel, that's a fish well over 30 cm/12 inches in length. Surgeonfishes come in a range of sizes, but few are small fish, and most are in the 20-40 cm/8-16 inches size bracket.> Loin eats- shrimp, brine and squid. Large spot (fish) cut small. The lion and ray do snuggle he lays his spins soft for him. I know it sounds strange. <Be incredibly careful about forcing human emotions and perceptions onto animals. That is the path to disaster!> No i am not over stocked. <Yes, you really are. Massively.> I have 5 fish in 125 gallons. My ammonia is slight <"Slight" ammonia is bad. A healthy, safe, properly stocked aquarium has zero ammonia. Any ammonia level not equal to zero is B-A-D bad. Your tank is likely overstocked, under-filtered, and quite probably over-fed.> I did a 25 gallon water change. Added buffer, salt and dechlorinator. The Koran was added before the problem with lion was visible and happening. He ate the damsel. <Don't do this again. There's honestly no point. If you like seeing one animal attack another, then please go try out a blood-and-guts computer game like Quake. Lots of death and destruction there. But in your aquarium, the aim is that any and all fish coexist. Feeding live fish to your Lion serves absolutely no useful function, and has the potential to cause lots of problems.> I thought everything was fine he was just full.iam not the type to add a fish when i am having a problem. I do stay on top of my tank. I took 6 months buying my equipment before I set it up. <OK.> i am so dedicated that we are going to get a 300 gallon for ray once he gets bigger. <Good.> I am already collecting my equipment for his larger home when it is time. He is still small. loin, He acts like something is stuck in his throat. <Could EASILY be the (now dead) Damselfish. Perciform fish (of which the Damsel is an example) have erectile spines on the dorsal and anal fins. In the wild they raise these spines in a last-ditch attempt to get predators that have captured them to spit them out. Usually predators swallow such fish head first, and this allows them to use their throat muscles to force the spines back down again. But if the predator is inexperienced (as is the case with specimens in captivity) it often happens the predator doesn't know how to do this, because it hasn't learned how to do this by capturing prey all its life. If it swallows the Perciform fish tail-first for example the fin spines cannot be forced down, and the prey item gets wedged in its throat. This is a surprisingly common problem, and why I advise that those people keeping predatory fish that cannot take non-live fish foods (of which your Lion is NOT an example) should use fish without spiny fins. This means they shouldn't use Damsels or Cichlids, but rather (home-bred, gut-loaded) species such as Killifish and Poeciliid livebearers.> Large open mouth movements. <Could be laboured breathing, a common reaction to poor water quality. Stop feeding your fish, all your fish, and do everything you can to get ammonia levels down to zero. Check that the tank is spotlessly clean. Review filtration methods. You should have a spectrum of filter types including live rock, a skimmer, and one or more auxiliary filters of some type, such as an external canister filter rated to a turnover of 8-10 times the volume of the tank per hour. Check each filter is correctly maintained and working properly. In a healthy aquarium there shouldn't be any ammonia at all; that you can detect ammonia implies a problem.> He plays for the fish (food). I give the tang and angel leaf (salad) or zucchini. - change the filters one at a time over 3 days. Ph is 8,0 nitrates slight elevated ammonia real slight so the water change all values in normal ranges now. I usually try to feed every 2 or three days to the ray, lion ,puffer. My fish have always gotten along no problems in 7 months. <Famous last words! Seriously, just because fish get along now, doesn't mean they will in the future. Tangs, Angels and Lions generally get along okay, though all three would prefer to be "top dog". Arothron spp. puffers are boisterous rather than bullies, but nippy specimens can kill Lionfish. You might imagine a Lionfish is so dangerous everything would leave it alone, but not so. Puffers can nip at their fins, allowing infections to set in, killing the Lion. Stingrays -- in all honesty -- have no place in your, or most peoples, marine aquaria. They're just incredibly difficult to maintain, and I doubt even 5% of the specimens purchased go on to live for more than a year or two. I've been keeping fish for some 25 years, and wouldn't dream of keeping a Stingray, freshwater or salt. I just feel they're better appreciated in the wild.> This is the first problem. I was told to put in guppies. i am regretting it after reading your email. <Less reputable retailers will indeed to tell people to keep Lionfish fed on Guppies or Goldfish or whatever. There's absolutely no need to do so, and lots of very good reasons NOT to do this. Lions are very adaptable and will consume a wide variety of prey. Here in England it's common to settle them in with live river shrimp (the equivalent to what I believe Americans call "glass shrimp"); Palaemonetes, Palaemon, Crangon type things. Lions accept them readily, and since the shrimps are herbivores, it's easy to gut-load them with vitamin-rich Spirulina flake food. Once the Lion is settled and any weight loss from shipping dealt with, you can wean it onto a mixed seafood diet. Prawns, mussels, squid and strips of non-oily white fish is a popular mix. By the time the Lion has learned that you're the one serving the meals, it's generally pretty open to the idea of eating whatever you throw into the tank, dead or alive. There may be a battle of wills for a couple of weeks, but so long as you stick to your guns, the Lionfish will eventually give in and take the dead food. From then on, it's easy to give a balanced, healthy diet for pennies a week. Best of all, Lionfish on dead food diets are less aggressive, so they can be kept in groups under aquarium conditions. Pterois spp. at least appear to be gregarious in the wild, as well as somewhat nocturnal (or at least crepuscular) but keeping them in groups seems to encourage them to swim about happily during the day. It's a Win-Win for everyone!> I was told that I had him to much on non active food. Try live. I think I screwed up. <Common mistake; don't feel too bad.> If there is a fin stuck in his mouth from the damsel what can I do for him. <You personally, very little; handling a live Lionfish without [a] stinging yourself and [b] doing anything helpful for the Lionfish will be difficult. You could net the fish and then try to use a long, smooth, non-toxic stick (like a plastic chopstick) to open its mouth and peer in. But anything that requires you to bring your hand close to the fish is OBVIOUSLY VERY DANGEROUS and has to be avoided. A vet trained in handling fish (there are a few) may be able to offer assistance. For now observe the fish carefully, and try to see if you can "look into" the mouth and down the throat. But do also review water quality. That you have ammonia in the system is bad, and that's something that needs addressing.> All our other fish are to large for him to eat. Everyone else gets on very well. We aren't getting or adding anymore fish. I do not want a over stocked tank. I do believe this is why I have not had a lot of problems.-i want to thank you for your time. <We're happy to help. There is much here to read; Bob Fenner has written much on the maintenance of Pterois. Start here, and follow the various links at the top of the page: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/lions&rels.htm These are generally hardy fish that do well in captivity, but there are a few problems to look out for. Ironically, people "loving" their fish too much and buying them lots of feeder fish are actually the folks who end up with the most problems.> Please write me more about what you think for lion. I am worried for him. I don't need the sugar coated letter. <I'm British, and we don't usually do sugar coating, except maybe around the Queen!> I am grateful for the straight forward manner you deliver your info. Merry xmas* <Merry Christmas to you, too. Cheers, Neale.>

Lion fish diet 11/10/08 Bob, I am writing an essay for a college where. U am. discussing the impact of human error on the destruction of ecosystems (namely reefs). I am writing on the introduction of lion fish. as alien species in North Carolina and the Caribbean. I. am basically making a projection that the increase of lion fish. in areas where there are no natural predators will cause extinction of species that are found in their natural diet. I would like to know. a natural. food that lion fish eat such as a species of shrimp or crab that is found in North Carolina or the Caribbean that a lion fish could possibly consume to the point of extinction. Thanks again, Zach <Zach, thanks for writing. Lion fish will eat any species of fish, crab, shrimp that can fit in their mouth. Lion fish are the ultimate predators and obviously can thrive in sub-tropical and even colder water conditions. I personally have witnessed lion fish (in captivity) eat any smaller fish ranging from a clown fish to small trigger fish. Good luck with the report. Ian B>

Ghost shrimp/jewel anemone hlth/ID  - 07/19/08 I can't seem to find an answer for my questions.#1 I bought some ghost shrimp from my LFS and I noticed they had some white dots on their body, is this normal or some sort of disease? <Mmm, likely more the latter... not communicable though. These sorts of markings show up in specimens that have been kept in poor conditions> #2 I have a large colony of jewel anemones <There are a few species that go by this name... Is this a Corynactis? Which do you have? and can't find any info on them any where can you tell me or give me a link to some information on them? Thanks for any help! <Bob Fenner>

Re: Ghost shrimp/jewel anemone 07/20/2008 Wow I didn't think I would even get a reply yet alone a reply so quick! So then it would be safe for my fuzzy dwarf lion to eat said ghost shrimp his health is of great importance to me. #2 yes my jewel anemones do resemble Corynactis and now I have their scientific name I'm finding a lot on them. I saw tanks full of them at Chicago's Shedd aquarium that's were I got the jewel name from. thank you very much. I'm sure your words of wisdom have prolonged the lives of many of our aquatic friends!!! <<Yes, the ghost shrimp are fine for the lionfish. Really glad you found the correct name for your anemone, all helps towards providing a better environment for them. Thanks for the follow-up, hope this helps. A Nixon>>

Lionfish help... feeding, reading...   7/18/08 hi I have a small common lionfish, two damsels and a 12" snowflake eel in my 72 gallon tank. I have been feeding my lionfish feeders (minnows) because that's all he'll take <... see WWM re training onto other foods> but this isn't my problem. After looking at your website I see that feeders are actually very bad for them. <Ah, yes> Today I looked at my lionfish and its stomach was inflated very much and he wouldn't take the feeder so it was obvious something was wrong. I understand that this is happening because of all the feeders I have given it but is there a way to make him better or is it too late from him? Any info on what happening would be great.. Thanks -Matt <Hopefully this fish isn't doomed at this point... and you can begin to proffer it better foodstuffs, nutrition. Nothing you can do but wait at this point. Bob Fenner>

Juvenile Volitans lionfish not eating anything - 06/29/08 Hello again Mr. Fenner. I purchased a 2-3" long juvenile Volitans lionfish over a week ago. I gave him some ghost shrimp on his second day in his new home (75 gallon tank) he ate two of the three that I put in there rather quickly, now he eats nothing. I've tried many of the tips on getting him to eat frozen food but he simply won't show any interest. I gave in and tried some feeder guppies and ghost shrimp but he shows no interest in them either! I'm at a loss for what else I should do to get this little guy to eat. I have tried the acrylic skewer, the food on the fishing line trick, and a small variety of live foods. Any advice on this subject is much appreciated. Thanks in advance, Shea <Mmm, the shrimp may have been too big, the shells/exoskeletons too hard to digest/pass just yet. I urge patience, waiting another week or so... can go w/o feeding for this long, even at a small size... keep trying the other foods, fish flesh... but be patient. Bob Fenner>
Re: Juvenile Volitans lionfish not eating anything - 06/30/08
Hello Bob and thank you for the speedy reply. I will give it time and plenty of patience and try a variety of meaty marine foods. <Good> I do have 2 more quick questions if you don't mind. The first question is that I just saw my Volitans skimming the bottom of the tank and taking in mouthfuls of sand then spitting it all back out. Can you venture a guess as to why he would be doing this? <Mmm, mere speculation, but maybe this is some "cleansing mechanism" for when something is "stuck" further in the animal> And second, my LFS said that there is no chance that a 5-6" Volitans can/will eat a cleaner shrimp, royal Gramma, and a percula clown (all 3-4"). What is your take on this statement? <It is incorrect> Thank you again for your time and wealth of knowledge. Sincerely, Shea <Glad to share. BobF>

Lionfish stomach bulge   6/23/08 Hello, I have a quick question for the experts at wwm. I just purchased a 3" Volitans lionfish yesterday at my LFS. He was acting just like lions do, perched on a rock being lazy. I knew to ask the dealer how he was eating and for a demonstration (knew this after using your great site). The dealer said he just fed him some ghost shrimp the night before and he probably won't eat right now, and he didn't. So I brought him home and tried feeding him frozen krill last night, but no such luck (wasn't surprised). But today he went into hunting mode at a small piece of algae that I put in there for my blue hippo, so I figured I should get him a ghost shrimp or two just to see if he'd eat it. I saw him eat one now he has a weird shaped bulge on the lower right side of his stomach and he is laying on the bottom and hasn't swam out from his cave since he ate. Just want to make sure this is normal behavior post feeding, and also what that bulge is. Thank you all so much, Shea. <Hopefully the bulge is a smaller shrimp... Lions can/do at times ingest other living/non-living material. And am hopeful that "this too shall pass". Bob Fenner>

Lion Feeding 05/23/08 I did a lot of searching and reading on your site and didn't find much about feeding a small (about 2 1/2 - 3 inches) volitans that already is eating mysis. I do a mix between flack <? What is this?> and mysis for the rest of the tank. Can I assuming that this is a good amount for the lion if he eats everyday? <As long as the fish doesn't appear "thin"... the underbelly concave...> He only shares his home with two other fish, so the amount of food placed in the tank isn't too much. He was eating mysis at the LFS when I purchased him. Thanks Spencer Hall <I'd start mixing in other food items... as the fish will grow too large for Mysis alone in time. Bob Fenner>

Lionfish question... will eat small-enough and not fishes!  - 03/07/08 Dear crew <Doug> I have had this lionfish for about 6 months. It eats essentially half a cube of Formula One and half a cube of Formula Two per day. Over time, it has gotten a couple of blue green Chromis. <Eventually all...> The other day he got a yellowtail blue devil. The next day he ate, but the day after he did not. Today, he was in the middle of the death throws. <... gut blockage...> Tonight he is just lying still on the bottom of the tank, gasping. Looks like he is near the end. Still full of color. He is about 7 inches, very think. The other fish in the tank are doing very well. Thoughts? Doug <Put the term "Lionfish gut blockage" in the WWM search tool: http://wetwebmedia.com/WWMAdminSubWebIndex/question_page.htm read the cached views... live and hopefully learn. Bob Fenner>

Re: Lionfish (choking on Pomacentrids) question  3/9/08 Bob <Doug> Thanks a lot. You guys are helpful and that seems to be the best answer that I have heard. We also have a missing tiny snail, but it is hard to spot in our 95 gallon tank. <This too could be a source...> We got the lionfish last and frankly he is the showpiece of the tank so it is sad to lose him (or her). If by some miraculous comeback it survives, do you have any recommendations as to how to feed a lionfish while we are on vacation? <Mmm, yes... not to. Unless the specimen is absolutely tiny, or the vacation more than a couple of weeks... Pteroines do fine with fasting this long...> We have been using neighbors twice a day, but that will get old very quick on an upcoming 14 day vacation. Doug <I would place a timer with spectrum pelleted food (conditioning the other fishes so they are familiar) and leave this as that. Bob Fenner>

Lionfish advice please, hunger strike - 01/07/2008, Marco's go Hi, <Hello Cindy.> I have went through the website but haven't found a similar problem. <Really? Have you looked here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/lionfdgfaqs.htm and http://www.wetwebmedia.com/liondisfaqs.htm , and at the other linked FAQs on lionfish feeding and disease?> I have a lionfish, it's quite big, about 10inches from head to tail. I got him in March this year. It's in a 600litre reef tank, tank mates are yellow tang, cream angel, coral beauty, tomato clown, puffer fish and 4 ghost ribbon eels. <Sound like this tank is the wrong place for them to me. Are these black/blue/yellow or white ribbon eels? Do they eat at all with all these faster fish.?> All the fish came together with the whole set up. It was a great feeder, took chopped up fresh prawns, then a few months ago, it shopped eating for about 1.5 month (I kept trying to feed it) and then started feeding again. Then about 2 months ago, he stopped feeding again, only this time it's been longer and it swims away when I try to feed it. I even tried giving it live feeder fish but it's simply not interested. It looks fine, a bit thinner, but its' eyes are bright and flares its' fins when I move in front of it, other times it snaps at other fish when they are feeding but won't eat even when the food is right in front of him. I even put some scallop and prawns at the end of a skewer and tap its mouth with it and it still won't eat it. I've tried soaking the food in garlic before I feed it and it still won't eat. In the past when it was taking food, it would look up to the water surface and wait for the food to drop but now it just hides in crevices or amongst coral. I'm worried that it may starve to death and I don't want to loose it. Would you have any suggestions to get it to start eating again? Thanks, Cindy <Aside feeding in the dark you have tried all the standard methods. It is not unusual for lionfish to stop eating for some time. 2 months, however, is rather long. First thing to check is water quality, are the nitrates below 20? Are ammonia and nitrite 0? pH? These (and many other) fish regularly stop eating when the water quality declines. A series of partial water changes should improve the situation in this case, but filtration needs to be upgraded, too, if declining water quality is the source of this hunger strike. A second theory is stress: Is the lionfish bothered by the puffer or the other tank mates?. Third idea is nutritional deficiency if prawns was all you were feeding him on a regular basis. I hope he gets well again. Marco.>

Lionfish refusing to eat 1-7-08, Yunachin's go Hi, <Hello, Yunachin here> I have went through the website but haven't found a similar problem. I have a lionfish; it's quite big, about 10inches from head to tail. <I have one a little bigger.> I got him in March this year. It's in a 600litre reef tank, tank mates are yellow tang, cream angel, coral beauty, tomato clown, puffer fish and 4 ghost ribbon eels. <Wow, four ribbon eels!> All the fish came together with the whole set up. It was a great feeder, took chopped up fresh prawns, then a few months ago, it stopped eating for about 1.5 month (I kept trying to feed it) and then started feeding again. <Were you trying anything else other than the prawns? How frequently was he eating?> Then about 2 months ago, he stopped feeding again, it swims away when I try to feed it. I even tried giving it live feeder fish but it's simply not interested. <What kind of feeder fish? I do not recommend feeder fish due to the lack of nutrition that these fish can provide. A majority of lionfish die prematurely due to feeder fish -associated problems, for instance the high amount of fats.> It looks fine, a bit thinner, but its' eyes are bright and flares its' fins when I move in front of it, other times it snaps at other fish when they are feeding but won't eat even when the food is right in front of him. <Have you noticed any bullying from the other fish in the tank? > I even put some scallop and prawns at the end of a skewer and tap its mouth with it and it still won't eat it. I've tried soaking the food in garlic before I feed it and it still won't eat. <It is not uncommon for Lionfish to stop eating for a short time but not as long as two months.> In the past when it was taking food, it would look up to the water surface and wait for the food to drop but now it just hides in crevices or amongst coral. <Lionfish are incredibly picky and prefer for their food to look "alive" when being fed. I would try some ghost shrimp and see if he takes to that. You can enrich the ghost shrimp by feeding them marine flake food. Most lionfish will not turn down a ghost shrimp. I recommend rotating through many marine based foods, such as chopped gulf shrimp (with their shell on), lobster tail, crabmeat, strips/chunks of marine fish (available at the grocery store), and chunks of squid and octopus. I also recommend supplementing these foods by adding a few drops of a vitamins to make up for the lack of nutrition from refusing to eat.> I'm worried that it may starve to death and I don't want to lose it. Would you have any suggestions to get it to start eating again? <Good Luck, Yunachin> Thanks, Cindy

Lionfish... hlth., nutr.    9/4/07 Hi guys! It has been a while since I last talked with you, but you have always given me good advice, and I haven't been able to find exactly the same problem on the Web site. I have a Volitans lion (Venus) that we have had for 2 years; she is about 8 inches long. She took well to hand feeding, and will eat almost anything we give her. We give her silver sides about one time per week, and the rest of the time we feed her either frozen or freeze dried shrimp. <Too much fat in these foods... and nutrient deficient...> A couple of times she has taken an entire cube of frozen blood worms while we were trying to feed the other fish, but this has not happened in over 6 months. She shares a 220 gallon tank with a Rectangulatus trigger, a saddle puffer, a lemon peel angel, a scopas tang, and a flame hawk. About a week ago the lion stopped eating with no warning, and she has been listing to her right side. Her coloring is normal, and her size has not changed, nor does her breathing seem rapid. She seems to float to the top of the tank, and floats there either on her back or on her side. She has no interest in food, and she seems that she can only swim with her head pointed down; she doesn't seem able to swim towards the top of the tank facing upward, she just sort of floats there. We did a 1/4 water change, and tested the water, and all levels are normal. All of the other fish have been behaving normally. I am wondering if this is possibly a problem with her swim bladder? <Caused by?> She has never shown behavior like this before, and there have been no additions at all to the tank (fish or rock) in about a year. She does occasionally try to swim down and sit there, but she ends up floating back up to the top, and is usually on her side, and if I open the lid part of her pectoral fin is actually out of the water between the water level and the lid. She floats with her right side down. I am not sure how old she was when we purchased her, but she was only about 3 or 4 inches long at the time. Please help!!! (if you can). I don't want to lose her, but I really have no idea what to do for her, and it really seems like it is a struggle for her to even try to swim downwards. We have not seen her really open her mouth at all in the last week...at first I thought possibly lockjaw, but I don't think that explains the strange floating behavior. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for your time in advance, and thanks to all of you who counsel our fellow aquarists. Your site is truly wonderful, and it's so great to have a place to go for advice and information. Sincerely, Jennifer and Steve <I do hope your Lion spontaneously gets better... with just time going by. It might have swallowed something that is decomposing, producing an air pocket inside of it... If it does resume normal orientation and feeding, I would take to broadening the food menu... and soaking some of these foods in a vitamin, HUFA mix (like Selcon). Otherwise, there is not much that can be "done" here other than wait. Bob Fenner>

Volitans Lionfish Eating issue  8/23/07 Before I begin, thanks for the wealth of good information. I have searched through all the Lionfish threads and FAQ's but seem to not be able to match up exactly my issue. He does not have a dislocated Jaw, lose of appetite, and I have never fed him feeders. But he is having trouble swallowing food. <Mmmm> I have owned this Volitans Lionfish for about 1.5 yrs now and have grown him out in a 75g and he now lives in a 240g FOWLR. He is currently 8-9". He has always been a heavy eater of just about anything that went in front of him. I typically feed him cut raw shrimp chunks with tail and shell removed, with other treats from time to time (silversides, krill, squid, ghost shrimp, etc). <Sounds good; in fact, yummy> Water parameters are good. 79.5-82 deg F, 8.2 PH, Amm 0, Nitrite 0, Nitrate (10), Phos (0). Tank has over 300lbs of LR and a huge skimmer. Tank mates have never bothered him except with my 24"+ Snowflake Moray accidentally snapped one of his back spines off 1/2 way down during a feeding rampage. (gotta love eels and feeding time). But that has heeled and is growing back. Other tank mates (Queen Angel, Naso Tang, Yellow Tang, Harlequin Tusk, and a Maroon Clown) do not bother him at all. <Good> Within the last 2-3 months he seems to not be able to swallow. He still acts interested in food and swims up to it and will gulp it in but then acts like he is coughing and eventually spits it out and watches it sink. He will follow it down and sometimes grab it off the bottom (along with a mouth full of aragonite) and gulp on it for some time before spitting it back out. I have tried smaller and smaller pieces with limited success. It seems like he has a problem in his throat or a problem swallowing. Any ideas of problem or potential solutions (vitamins or food soakings)? <I do think the food soaking is a good idea... I would add the use of Iodide along with the Vitamins, HUFAs... You may find a commercial prep. that incorporates all three. Bob Fenner> Joe McLaughlin

Lion fish behaviour/illness... nutritional def. syndrome/fdg.    8/8/07 Hi Crew, First I'd obviously like to thank you all for having this phenomenal web site, it is definitely my primary resource for just about everything I try to do with this hobby. <Welcome> I feel that there likely is an answer already within your site, but I just can't seem to put these pieces together well enough to be confident in how I'd like to proceed.... So, to the point... (I'll try to spare you as much of my novice speculation as possible, and just give you my observations) I've had my Fu Manchu Lion (Dendrochirus biocellatus with three eye spots) for just over a year, he is the sole inhabitant of a 60 gal with about 80 lbs of live rock. There have been no attempted additions to the tank or otherwise since my last addition of 15 lbs of live rock 4 months ago. This tank is in the basement of my house. For the first six months of his stay with me he ate gut packed ghost shrimp, eventually he began eating freeze dried krill (vitamin soaked), but will still eat nothing other than those krill (a fish of discriminating tastes, he would actually spit out anything that wasn't krill) More recently he won't eat anything at all. <... too likely an effect of the restricted diet> I last fed him Monday of last week and while a heat wave hit where I live.... The water in the tank rose to 83 over a day or two's time <Should be fine> and when I tried to feed him again he feigned going after the piece of krill, but then gave up. I tried to feed him daily after that and he would still eat nothing. Originally my take on it was that the rising temperature where I live may have upset him enough to initiate this fasting... his tank normally holds a temperature of 79 degrees. Unsure of how to handle the unstable temperature, i tried to wait it out, hoping the heat would break, knowing that fluctuations in temperature could be thought to be worse than a slightly high temperature. (the water quality maintained itself at 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, 8.3 ph and around 15ppm nitrate [i know this is high, i have been having significant trouble lowering it]) As of Friday that week I started to get more concerned, as he really did seem particularly lethargic and his belly was starting to look a bit more concave than I'm comfortable with. there was no report of the temp outside lessening, and the lion's colour became pale as well as his breathing particularly rapid. In my own panic and haste I decided to attempt to lower the temp by a degree or so by doing a 15 gal water change with the new water being around 80 degrees. Now since he's a rock clinger and I work long hours I can't verify if these next symptoms were or were not present before hand.... but obviously if my guesswork and recklessness had paid off I wouldn't be writing you, so what I can tell you is through my observation after that point, he became more pale, and within an hour or three he was seeming to be significantly disoriented. He would try to swim and almost appeared drunk, like he didn't know which way was up or where he was going. he was doing strange loops where some of the time he was belly-up (which is very abnormal for him). A little spastic and possibly even a bit twitchy. Luckily (or unfortunately) before I could do any more damage, I had to leave for a few days. I felt sick for having to leave him... but again, sometimes I act rashly when faced with an unwell (or possibly dying) pet. When I returned on Monday, I found him alive but looking disoriented, clinging to his rock in an unfamiliar fashion (normally he sits with "purpose" and doesn't look so vacant) and looking a bit unstable. (though he doesn't appear blind... he reacts to my hand near the glass) On close inspection his fins looked like they might have been rubbed a little on the rocks, a few hours later I noticed that only the lower half of his tail had been damaged, where some areas appear to be broken off (honestly, if I had another fish in he tank I would think he'd been chewed) The upper half of his tail looks perfectly normal. Presently, he doesn't twitch his dorsal spines anymore, where he would normally move them in a jerky wave pattern. He's still not eating or trying to and I have not had any opportunity to watch him swim, but as he shimmies from one rock to another, he still seems to be inclined to lean to one side, and his "bum" or back half seems to hold less weight than it used to... so, what i mean is he seems to have trouble holding it to any surface. <Starvation...> I'm worried anything I do could stress him more and I don't know what would or might do more good than harm. I considered moving him to my Quarantine tank, <Not advised> but I thought a 15g would be more likely to fluctuate with the temperature (if that's even the problem) Also I have a new fish in the Q tank, an Amblygobius phalaena, 3 weeks into his quarantine and perfectly healthy (as far as I can see) Eating ravenously, and not being affected by these same temp. fluctuations... In everything I have done with his quarantine I have paid great attention to not allowing direct or indirect contact between the tanks (as a side note). <I would place this fish with the Lion> I don't know how to proceed from here... My biggest concern is that I can't put my finger on any one thing that might be wrong (or at least connect it to anything I have read in your lion faq's) and am ready lo listen to whatever scolding I need to get to the root of this problem and understand what I can do to help him get well. Tell me what not to do, tell me what to do.... and maybe tell me what I can do in the future about my summertime temperatures... Every fish is a beautiful and amazing one, and Fu really is to me. If I had an equivalent of a Merck Manual of medical info for fish I swear I wouldn't be bothering you, But I really Do appreciate you help for and patience with someone I'm sure you might view as an absolute ninny. I hope some of what I've noted will help you help my fish. Sorry for talking you ear off. I was just trying to give you all the info I have and explain myself in the process. Thank you once more for all of you expert knowledge and help. -Liz <Am hoping that the addition of the other fish, its feeding behavior will spur your lion on to resuming feeding... I would try some live ghost shrimp... and add some vitamin/HUFA mixture (variously sold as commercial prep.s in the hobby) to the water the shrimp were in for a good fifteen minutes before offering... to stimulate appetite as well as possibly supplying needed nutrients. Bob Fenner>

Injured Lionfish + 1 month without eating. Need advice please.   5/24/07 Hi! <Hello there> First off, great site - full of helpful information, but I can't seem to find anything that quite matches my case, so I'm dropping you a line.  4 weeks ago my lionfish acquired a sizable gash across the top of the head in the soft tissue between the "head plate" and the first dorsal spine.  The deep gash went from one gill covering to the other and he was bleeding freely in the tank. <Yikes! Very bad situation... Fishes have very high "Packed Cell Volumes"... and a world of not much dissolved oxygen (often about 7 ppm... vs. ours of about 210,000... Need their blood, rest of their integument/slime systems to be intact to stay alive> I wish I could figure out how to attach the pictures I have, but it basically looks like someone took a steak knife and split the back of the head open. <Mmm, have seen similar injuries... Lions can really move at times... run into objects, jump out of the water, striking gear...> I later found a 2-inch peacock mantis in my live rock (which I immediately removed), but I am still unsure what caused this injury.  The bleeding eventually stopped and under the advice of my local fish store, I treated the tank with MelaFix for 2 weeks. <Am not a fan>   The Lionfish ate sparingly after this injury (he was a terrific eater of fresh frozen and freeze dried shrimp prior to this event), but ate his final piece of food 24 days ago.  His wound is healing nicely (no discoloration or puss from the wound). I tried ghost shrimp and guppies - nothing is taking his interest. In fact, when I try to "pole feed" dehydrated shrimp, the live ghost shrimp will crawl up onto the face of my Lionfish to get the food!!!  Water levels are fine, I check the ammonia, etc., every other day and change a portion of the water weekly.  Anyway, his dorsal spines are depressed, laying along his back and he's noticeably losing weight (although I haven't massed him). I've contacted a few local aquaria regarding force feeding, and had I.V. feeding proposed as a suggestion. <Mmm... would not do this> Unfortunately, the aquarium that suggested this is too far away for me to bring in the fish (overseas).  I was wondering if you had any suggestions for force or IV feeding? <Well... could/can be done... with extreme care with Pteroines obviously... but I would keep trying the foods you have been, with some changes... I would re-arrange the decor in this system, soak all foods in a vitamin and HUFA supplement (for attraction as well as nutrition), and make/use a "feeding stick" for the non-live items...> I've managed to shove food in his mouth via the "pole feeding" method, <Oh! Good> but at this point he's spitting everything back out - so I think we've gone a bit beyond the standard "hunger strike". If I must handle him to force or IV feed, what type of gloves would suffice to prevent being injured by his spines? <Mmm, actually... better to use well-soaked (to discount residual cleaner) white (versus colored) older cloth towels... to "hold back the dorsal and pectoral fins while manipulating such animals> I have dive gloves, but the joints are fairly thin. <These can be easily punctured... and the handling will further damage the fish with these> Any advice would be very helpful - my lionfish is such a terrific little guy, with an awesome personality (up until this event... his behaviour has radically changed to depressed and non-interactive over the past month).  I don't want to lose him! Thanks, Kim <The food bolus must be pressed, inserted further back than the buccal cavity... past the obvious closure in the back throat... there are some backward pointing structures there that disallow live food organisms from escape... A plastic catheter, other tools... Bob Fenner>

Problems Feeding My Lionfish (Puffer/Lionfish Incompatibility) - 05/08/07 Dear Bob, <<Hello Jason...Eric here this A.M.>> I recently acquires a Lionfish and a Porcupine Puffer. <<Neat fishes...though not really compatible>> My problem comes in at feeding time. <<Indeed>> The Puffer eats everything I put into the tank so the Lionfish doesn't have a chance to eat. <<Just one of several reasons these two species do not do well together in typical home displays>> Any suggestions as to how I can distract the Puffer from taking everything away from the Lionfish?  At one point the Lionfish was ready to suck in a prawn  and the Puffer practically took it out of the Lionfish mouth.  Any help would be greatly appreciated. Best regards, Jason <<Obviously, the best solution is to have these fishes in separate systems.  Failing that, you can try fabricating/inserting some type of divider (a piece of acrylic sheet) at feeding times to "corral" the Puffer away from the Lionfish to give the latter time enough to feed.  Do also keep an eye on these two, especially for signs of fin damage on the Lionfish as sooner or later the Puffer will likely begin to chew on its tankmate..  Regards, EricR>>

Lionfish worries, feeding-not  - 05/01/07 Hi,   I can't tell you how much my husband and I love this website.  You have been a huge help for us on many occasions.  Unfortunately, we have a sick Volitans lionfish, and haven't found any information in the FAQ's.  He shares a 55 gallon tank with a small, young triggerfish and a few snails. <Need more room than this...>   We have a live sand bed and about 35 pounds of live rock.  Our water quality is good. (Nitrates, nitrites, and ammonia are all 0 ppm. <Really?! Even zero nitrate? Unusual for settings with this sort of wildlife mix> pH is around 8.3.  Specific gravity is 1.024.)  The problem is that our lionfish stopped eating over a month ago.  He shows no signs of infection and the triggerfish is completely healthy. <May be the psychological reason the Lion has ceased feeding...>   As appearances go, he looks fine, other than a slight decrease in size. <Good observation. Do actually "shrink" with starvation> The only other thing we've noticed, which is rather odd, is this bright blue poop here and there in the tank.  I know it isn't coming from the triggerfish.  So, what would cause the lionfish to have poop like that? <Mmm, don't know... may be from the snails> Could he have swallowed something?  Please help.  This fish has been an awesome pet with a great personality for us and our boys.  Thank you so much!   Chanda    <Really... I'd move the Lion elsewhere... Sometimes these fishes do "just go on feeding strikes"... Perhaps some live ghost shrimp in a new setting with spur it on to resume feeding. You have read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/lionfdgfaqs.htm and the linked files above I take it. Bob Fenner>

Lionfish problems!!! HELP  3/19/07 Hi, I have had a Lionfish for the last 6 months, who was doing wonderfully well. In the last week, it refuses to eat, and has been swimming from side to side in the tank for hours, like he had never done before. <Unusual behavior> I've tried hand-feeding it silver fish, krill, and raw shrimps. He just doesn't eat. My tank is a 92 gallon, and my lionfish is about 6 inches long. I have 3 tangs and one panther grouper. <Mmmm> It is a reef tank. Is it possible that he is outgrowing the tank? <More likely the tankmates> Or is it the beginning of a parasite or any disease? <Not likely> Please help, I love this fish! Thanks, Gary <The behavior is indicative of "something" bothering this specimen... that is obviously not bothering your other fish livestock... Likely the presence of the Chromileptis/Panther is "it"... If this were my Lion, I'd move it to another system to see if this "cures" the non-feeding and pacing behavior... and if you don't have such means, I'd trade in either it or the Bass. Bob Fenner>

Lionfish Fdg, hunger strike - 1/25/07 <Hey Art, JustinN with you today.> All of a sudden my lionfish stopped eating. He watches the food, even acts like he is going to eat it, then can't seem to open his mouth. I have had this lion for nearly a year and hate to lose him.  I know if he doesn't start eating he will die. My local fish stores have no answers and just tell me he is going to die. <Perhaps a sign of disparaging methods at your LFS... How long has this hunger strike been going? Lionfish are known to go on occasional hunger strikes, refusing food for up and over a week at times..> Since I apparently have nothing to lose, is there a medicine I can try or can I shock him with a fresh water dip? <You have the life of your aquatic pet to lose here, my friend. I would not medicate until you have some sort of real indication of a problem. Is his stomach becoming visibly pinched yet? These creatures typically do not eat daily...> I have even considered separating him and trying to open his mouth with some kind of tool to see if it is "stuck"? I do realize they are poisonous so I will need to be careful. Any suggestions? <"Wait and see" is my suggestion here... if its been under a week and a half since the last feeding, I would not yet be concerned. Do try supplements to improve palatability of food, such as garlic extract and Selcon. Good luck! -JustinN> Art Berkowitz

Lionfish Fdg, hunger strike - a follow-up 1/27/07 <Hey Art, JustinN with you today.> Thanks for you prompt reply  Justin <<No Problem, Art. Glad to help.> All of a sudden my lionfish stopped eating. He watches the food, even  acts like he is going to eat it, then can't seem to open his mouth. I have had  this lion for nearly a year and hate to lose him.  I know if he doesn't  start eating he will die. My local fish stores have no answers and just tell me  he is going to die. <Perhaps a sign of disparaging methods at your LFS... How long has  this hunger strike been going? Lionfish are known to go on occasional hunger  strikes, refusing food for up and over a week at times..> It has been nearly two weeks since my lionfish  began acting strangely. As I said, the thing that concerns me the most is that  he seems unable to open his mouth. <<Mmm, then I would agree it is time to start being a bit more concerned... I still don't believe all is lost here, my friend.>> Since I apparently have nothing to lose, is there a medicine I can try  or can I shock him with a fresh water dip? <You have the life of your  aquatic pet to lose here, my friend. I would not medicate until you have some  sort of real indication of a problem. Is his stomach becoming visibly pinched  yet? These creatures typically do not eat daily...> No, his stomach does not appear to be pinched  yet. I feed my fish twice each day except when I am out-of-town and my neighbor  is feeding the fish. <<What do you feed here? Standard frozen aquatic cuisine, flake food, or meats from the seafood counter at the grocery store?>> Every morning my lionfish was at the top of the tank  waiting for me along with my porcupine puffer. <How large of a tank is this? This could be part of the issue, both these fish are quite the waste producers and messy eaters, and likewise, can get fairly large.> They used to fight for the first  food dropped into the tank. So this is very unusual behavior. Now, he just sits  upside down under a rock and rarely ventures from that position all  day. <<What are your water parameters like? Perhaps there's a malady, something off, there?>> I have even considered separating him and trying to open his mouth with  some kind of tool to see if it is "stuck"? I do realize they are poisonous so I will need to be careful. Any suggestions? <<Just as you say here, carefully restrain the fish, and lightly attempt to open the jaw for feeding.>> <"Wait and see" is my suggestion  here... if its been under a week and a half since the last feeding, I would not  yet be concerned. Do try supplements to improve palatability of food, such as  garlic extract and Selcon. Good luck! -JustinN> I will try the supplements and will wait and see. I just feel so helpless and everyone was telling me he is going to die. So I just wanted to try something proactive rather than accept that as his fate. Thanks for listening. Art Berkowitz <<Don't feel too overwhelmed, Art. Even under the best care, we can sometimes miss details, and/or things just go wrong on occasion. Likewise, I don't believe the situation is as dire as everyone else believes. Your lionfish does not need to be eating every day, and this could be leading in part to his current hunger strike. Aim for every 2-3 days, with meals consisting of mixed frozen sea-borne meats, as you can buy at the local grocer. Have a read through our lionfish feeding FAQ's, perhaps something that we haven't already postulated on will jump out at you: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/lionfdgfaq2.htm Good luck! -JustinN>>

Doing What Come Naturally….Lion Eating Hermits 1/16/07 I have a really big problem, <I'm all ears……> in my tank of about 450 litres, I have a Pterois volitans that have eat an hermit crab. <Sounds like natural behavior for the lion…….> I am very worried , he seams to be ok (to days later) The hermits are from Brazil, very small ones, I have more or less 20 hermits crabs in my tank and about 20 snails too. Can my scorpion digest it? <If he was large enough to swallow it whole, he should be able to digest it just fine.  In fact he will continue to eat the rest of the hermits and snails.> will he die for eating it? <Not likely.> Please tell me what do you think it will happen. <I think your lion will continue to practice this natural behavior on smaller tank denizens.> The Pterois is about 15 centimeters long and 43 years of age. <I'm guessing that age is a typo or was lost in translation somewhere……….> Thank you very much from ARGENTINA (SOUTH AMERICA) ALEJANDRO <Adam J. from SoCal.>

New lionfish owner <caregiver>   12/28/06 Hey, <Hey now!  Mich here.> I'm new with owning <caring for> anything other then starter damsels <damsel> and I've never fed a fish frozen food before, I just bought this lionfish and I wasn't sure if it was ok to put the frozen prawn in the tank right out of the freezer. <How often do you get a hankering for frozen shrimp?  How about a tasty fishcicle?> Should I thaw them out first? <Unless you Lionfish has an underwater microwave, yes the shrimp need to be thawed! Even better if you soak them in a vitamin supplement such as Selcon before feeding them to you fish.> Also is feeding him solely frozen prawn sufficient? <Could you live on frozen shrimp the rest of your life?> or should I get something else to add to his diet? <Variation is key here.  Please educate yourself as to the proper care of this beautiful creature.  These articles are a good place to start.  Good luck to you and happy reading!  -Mich> http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/cav1i2/lionfish/keeping_lionfishes.htm www.wetwebmedia.com/lions&rels.htm
Re: new lionfish owner <caregiver> Con't
  12/28/06 Ok so you've basically called me stupid via-email, that's fine, I'm new at this. <Oh, I'm not saying that at all!  I am trying to have a little fun, and make my replies at least a little entertaining to those who read them.  It is all in good nature and come from being in similar situations and not knowing what to do.  We all have our stories.  What I am saying is, at the very minimum place yourself in the situation and ask what would you desire.  A very basic starting place.>    I've found places that have told me to give it a variety of meats.  so is any type of raw meat alright? or should I stick with fish-types? <I would stick with fish types.  Something that he could possibly come across in his natural environment, mostly fish, shellfish, squid, etc.>   I have read countless articles making me aware of over feeding my fish and I do not believe this is a problem.  <Very good, awareness is often the most difficult aspect of this hobby.> Previously the fish was in a tank with two others, puffer and an angler, all of which were getting live prawn.  I do not have the resources to give my lionfish live prawn.  So if I could come up with a well rounded feeding pattern, that would be nice to know.  Also when I go to feed the rest of my fish, the lion hides in a place where I cannot just drop the food in front of him and the other members of the tank seem to munch on the prawn bits before he gets a chance at it.  I have read about feeder sticks and tongs but I don't know if I can access one. Any suggestions?  <Chopsticks from your local Chinese take out are a possibility, bamboo skewers, or even sending the pieces down a length of rigid tubing.  There are also several fish feeding devices currently marketed with in the industry, catalogs such That Fish Place, Marine Depot and Fosters and Smith will carry such items.>   Once again, please have patience I'm aware I must appear completely clueless. <My patience/time is offered to you.  We are all learning through this journey!>   Thank you for your time. <You are quite welcome.  -Mich>

Feeder Blockage Syndrome in Lionfish  - 11/04/06 Hello Mr. Fenner (and crew!),    <Gisho! Was in Narita just 12 hours ago!>   Long time reader of your wonderful book, the Conscientious Marine Aquarist (so much so that the pages are literally falling apart!).     This is fantastic site, and let me say "thank you" to you and all the hardworking   WWM crew for your efforts.     <Welcome>   Now to my question.  In your book, you state that the feeding of live goldfish to lionfish   contributes to feeder blockage syndrome.        Is it the particular shape or density of the goldfishes' skulls that is the cause of the blocking of the pylorus and if so, how is a goldfishes' skull any different than that of their natural saltwater prey?      <Mmm, don't exactly know what it is, but have dissected/necropsied a few lions that had apparently died with feeder goldfish impacted in their principal stomachs... Don't know if it's some chemical/physical difference in the chondros part of the minnows, or fat content...>   Or is what I surmise correct; the fact that in their natural habitat, lionfish go relatively long periods between feedings and essentially overeat when being fed too many feeder goldfish at once by well-intended aquarists? <This is definitely a factor as well>   Their digestive tracts are then not able to dissolve the skulls of the goldfish (as they are densest) and the skulls therefore essentially "pile up", and  block the gastric outlet?      <This is what I have observed... the skulls themselves "clogging" the gastric valve at the distal end of the fundus. Bob Fenner>   Or is it a combination of both? <I do think it/this syndrome is a combination of these inputs. Bob Fenner> I tried to find the answer in your book, which I was unable to, and I searched the WWM site and could not find a definitive answer.      Please advise.      Thank you so much, Gisho

Feeding new Puffer and Black Lionfish food from the Atlantic Ocean    10/3/06 Dear WWM, <John> We recently (yesterday) purchased a Dogface Puffer (Arothron nigropunctatus) and a Black Lionfish (Pterois ~ antennata/radiata) <Neat animals> In order to offer proper sustenance to the Puffer, I am wondering if it is acceptable to feed live caught crabs, clams, mussels from the Atlantic Ocean. <Mmm, yes... with some provisos... that you understand the possibilities of introducing pathogens, pests and pollution mostly> We live very close to beach here in North Carolina and have access to such prey items right out the back door.  I know that these prey items are not indigenous to the Puffer from a species perspective.  Is that a problem? <Not this, no> I am concerned that not being able to offer crustaceans to our Puffer may lead to lectures from the Fish Dentist that I would prefer to avoid. <Heeee. Possibly> Concerning the Lionfish, I basically have the same question about feeding small minnows (Popeye Mullet, Menhaden) caught locally.  Ironically, in the September issue of North Carolina Wildlife Magazine ( http://www.ncwildlife.org/pg09_NCWildStore/pg9a1.htm) there was an article on Red Volitans having been found off the coast of North Carolina. <Umm, yes...>   Much to the surprise of marine biologist.  So, does this in itself make it okay to feed indigenous prey? <Is okay> I also rather suspect that Mr. Fenner may point out the possibility of introducing parasites, pollutants, and other problems into the system? <Am ready for my holiday now... whenever you're ready to step in... Thank goodness!> Is that a real possibility or one that could somehow be minimized with something akin to a fresh water dip of the prey items before introduction? <Yes, and yes... even freezing/prep.> One more quick question on the Lionfish, I am having a very hard time classifying it.  The fish is almost completely black and white.  At first I thought radiata but, the absence of the two horizontal stripes on the tail seems to rule that out.  But antennata, doesn't seem correct as our fish has plumage almost completely up the spines.  Should I just classify it as a Pterois Volitans? Until yesterday, I had never seen one like this. <Almost assuredly this is a dark form of a Pterois volitans> Last but not least, I want to offer a very appreciative thank you to the WWM team.  Especially Mr. Fenner.  Thanks to him I have suffered many sleepless nights from reading and reading and re-reading the Conscientious Marine Aquarist. <Yikes... sorry about that/this. Bob Fenner> Thanks, John

Hey Guys - Lionfish Q, dwarf, small Lion feeding   10/2/06 Yeah yeah... I know I'm part of the crew, but I've got a question I can't seem to find a really decisive answer for. Thanks to WWM - I got a job as an aquarist expert at one of our local (or semi-local, as it may be) LFS.  When I started there last week, they had just got a very small dwarf lionfish in.  I'm talking about 1.5 inches small - and were trying to feed him flake food! <...>   Hello... not good.  But I can't seem to prompt him to eat - nothing, not a fish slurry, not live brine shrimp - not frozen anything!  Any ideas of what I can try that would be more successful? <Ghost shrimp... can/will live in marine settings for a good long while... and are palatable... and baby livebearers if you have them (look in the "feeder guppy" tank if they have such... Acclimate over a day or two to more saline conditions...> Or possibly a way to condition him to the food available? <Not likely in a/the short (enough) term> Thanks so much everyone! Jen S. PS - tis why I've been absent answering questions the past few weeks... once a get a handle on everything I'll be back. Plus I've already handed out WWM website to everyone wanting to know more than comes on in! <Real good. BobF>

Just some advice... re fdg. Lions  9/17/06 Dear WWM Crew,    <With cheese...>   You guys have gotten me out of many a problem with your extremely helpful advice. Because of this i <I> just thought id <ego?> send this email to maybe help some lionfish keepers on your site. I have a 5.5 - 6 inch red volitans and for the longest time i couldn't get him to touch anything dead. Feeding with feeder shrimp just gets to be a hassle and expensive, even though it is kinda <kind of> cool watching him chase down moving prey. So this is the story of how i managed to get bubba (big lips, loves shrimp, plus am in the south and we love Forrest Gump for some reason) to eat his first dead meal.   Bubba first started eating live shrimp from the day that i got him home. He loves them, in fact he loves food in general. I guess i started like most keepers with venomous fish and had a certain fear of being stuck, though i haven't been yet. I fed Bubba shrimp from a feeding stick which really didn't work well and just got fed up and released the shrimp into the display and just watched the action. About a three weeks after he came to live with me, he got really friendly and calm. Quite frankly i like him more than my parents dogs to be honest. Then one day i went to put a live feeder in and he waited and just took it straight from my hand. <A note here... shades of Steve Irwin... do NOT handfed venomous fishes... or animals period> This kinda surprised me but it worked. Soon he was eating out of my hand all the time and even let me pet him (keep in mind I've never EVER been stung by Bubba). <Please kids... don't try this at home> after about a week of feeding him from my hand he decided anything i gave him was good I guess and decided he was going to take an entire pinch of flake food i was going to give my trigger. That was fine, but all he did was turn it into little perfectly sized confetti that the trigger had fun chasing down i guess. At that point i was curious and lowered his first frozen dead shrimp into the display and BAM Bubba ate good that night on shrimp that cost 6$ a lb. I was ecstatic at this point and basically just shout FINALLY! So now free from having to go to the pet store every few days, I must say we're both happy. I truly hope that if you do in fact buy a volitans it is a friendly and peaceful as bubba is. I must say he is an incredibly beautiful and friendly addition to my tank. I hope my long story can possibly help someone having troubles with their lion. Thanks all and have a great evening.   -Hunter Rosenbauer <Thank you for this. Bob Fenner> Lionfish and diet   8/12/06 Hello there, <Hi to you> I have an Antennata Lionfish, about 5~6 inches in a 62G tank. I recently got it from a LFS that was feeding it live fish caught from the local marina. I wanna spoil this fish in terms of diet. Do you suggest I stop feeding it live fish ( I can regularly pick up a little fishy from the LFS every other day if need be) and train it to eat frozen food or what? <Hopefully so> I hear about soaking the frozen food in vitamins. Does Ocean Nutrition have such vitamins formula? <Mmm, if they don't there are plenty of other companies that do, and the liquid vitamins intended for humans (often sold for babies) are identical and of use here> I live in the UAE and the market for fish food and dietary products are not plethora. thanks Saif <Do take a read here Saif: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/lionfdgfaqs.htm and the next linked FAQs file above. Bob Fenner>

Sick Lionfish... env., nutr....    7/18/06 Hey guys, <And gals...> I have been going through every lion fish article you have and have seen some good info. However I think I may have something that I haven't seen.  Here it is. I have a lionfish that has been with me for 1 year now.  I have a 55 gallon tank with 10 hermit crabs, 3 turbo snails, 1 Blue Tang, 1 Yellow Tang <... this system is too small for these fishes...> 2 Hawaiian feather dusters and 1 green Feather duster.  I have a protein skimmer (odyssey) and a trickle filter to a 4 gallon bio ball sump setup.  There are also 2 power heads in there as well. The levels are as follows:  Nitrates about 10ppm (just did another 5 gallon water change to bring that back down to 0, <Mmm, ten ppm. is not too "bad"... zero is not achievable here> PH was low but that is back up to 8.2, nitrites and ammonia are perfect.  There was high phosphates and I have brought that down as well.  The salinity is at 1.022. <I'd keep this nearer to NSW strength, 1.025> I used to feed the lionfish gold fish but stopped that after warnings by your team. <Good> I started feeding him silversides which he loved, I could see his color get much better and he was also much more active as well as his wings started healing. Well 2 weeks ago I was trying to feed him but he didn't want anything to do with the food, kind of looked at it then let it drop to the ground. <Feeding strikes are very common with captive Scorpaeniforms...> I tried again 2 days later and have been every day since (That should explain the nitrates).  Well he would let it just hit his head and do nothing.  I have read that these fish will go on a hunger strike but I think I am past that now.  I have got the quality of water back to good (and it has been worse).  Well he now looks like he isn't breathing very well at all, very little movement in the gills. He also seems very disoriented he will be upside-down motionless and then will start moving but definitely not normal activity.  He also shed his skin the other night which I read they can do to get rid of parasites and/or disease. <Yes, natural behavior> Well today I was trying to get a good look at his eyes and his gills to see if I could see anything out of the ordinary. Well on him there was nothing but I came across something in the tank that may be a sign and may not.  I tried to get a picture but the resolution wasn't good.  SO I will try to explain.  In the live rock there are a bunch of little brown cylinder things smaller than a piece of rice.  Maybe 1 mm long if that. They are all over. They are light brown in color. I don't think they are waste from the fish since I have seen there waste before and it doesn't look like this.  I also have noticed 2 spots on the rock where there are almost polyp looking things.  They are about the size in diameter of a Coax cable end (3 cm or so?)  They are white/clear and have a little darker spot in the middle. Almost look like alcove of garlic or an upside down heart on the rock.   Also a little while back there was this weird string like thing that was white with little balls going the length. Almost like a pearl necklace but the pearls were separated more. DO you have any clue what these are and how I can help my fish.  Any help would be great. <Mmm, highly doubtful that these "critters" are problematical... Much more likely that your Lion has/is suffering from a nutritional deficiency syndrome. I would keep "wiggling" food in front of it... that has been soaked in a vitamin/iodide supplement (these are made for this purpose commercially)... and continue to seek out larger quarters for these fishes. Bob Fenner> Thanks, Link

Feeding Lionfish   7/3/06 I have a 120 gal tank with live rock and sand.   Decided to go with two lion fish as the main fish in the tank and read how to feed lion fish on this site.   I have a P. radiata and a P. antennata.  For the first two weeks they would not eat.  Soaked all food in garlic extract. <Not a big fan...>   I tried the fishing pole with a hook cut off and worked the shrimp like you would worm fishing for bass.   This at least got them to strike at the food but did not keep it in.  I was stocking  my tank with fish and got a wrasse that looks like a possum.  White head and tail.  Very small mouth.  Any food put in the tank it would grab and run.  The lions went with it and when the wrasse dropped the food the lions ate and kept it. <Neat> Adding a grouper to the tank also started aggressive feeding by the lions.  Competition for the food.  The other part of this is I started a more aggressive water flow inside the tank.  The current caught the food and made it appear to be swimming.  The Lions seemed much more prone to strike at the food this way.  In a period of two weeks I now have two lions that feed aggressively on all food put in the tank just like the rest of the fish.   Thanks for all the tips on how to get lions to feed.   Sam <Thank you for sharing yours. Bob Fenner> Re: Feeding Lionfish #2   7/3/06 I have also got to where my lion fish are now eating Tetra Cichlid  Jumbo Sticks.  The lion fish turned up there noses at first, but the rest of the tank feed on them.  The feeding around the lion fish caused them to get excited and strike.  They at first rejected the new taste.  Over a period of days they are now feeding good on these sticks.   According the can the sticks are in they are good food for lion fish.   Sam <Surprising, but good news. Bob Fenner>

Another Solution for Finicky "Live-Only" Feeders - 05/11/06 comets and Lion fdg. f's Hi Crew, <<Howdy Ken!>> I would like to thank you for the great and vast amount of aquaria knowledge you offer to us less wizened, wet behind the ear (pun intended) keepers of the wild wet wonders. <<Quite welcome my friend...we enjoy what we do>> The following is not a question, but a suggestion for those having trouble weaning lionfish to prepared foods. <<Great!>> My Mama always taught me sharing is a two way affair. *grin* <<Indeed>> After many reading through your "feeding lionfish" FAQ's, I tried all of the prescribed methods of weaning my fuzzy dwarf off of live foods.  He was a stubborn cuss and shied away from any feeding apparatus I attempted to put in the tank.  As I am also an avid angler, the oh so obvious solution came to me in forehead slapping fashion.  What I did was to cut off the business end of a fishing hook leaving only the straight shaft, (which I dulled up) and the hooks eye.  The hook I used was large enough to supply weight to negate the currents in the tank. <<Ahh.. I see...hence the reason for not using something made of plastic/acrylic>> Attaching some light fishing line, I was ready to go, almost.  I then impaled a whole krill from head to tail down the now harmless hook and I lowered the bait into the water and let it sink to bottom.  I had enough line to stand back 6 feet from the tank as not to spook him.   It only took a few wriggling tugs across the sandbed near the fuzzy little guy before I had my first hit.  He didn't get the krill, but after a couple more twitches, lunch was served. <<Outstanding!>> I just thought I'd share this for anyone having troubles in the weaning process. I hope it works as well as it did for me. <<Thanks much for this Ken.  This sounds like an excellent solution for particularly fussy/shy feeders.  Do let us know how things progress/if the lion begins to take dead offerings without the "trickery">> Cheers, Ken <<Regards, EricR>>

Lionfish eating to extremes...   4/7/06 We fed our lionfish some ghost shrimp and he jumped all over them after not eating for a few days... However, he seemed to eat all of them though and I became concerned about overfeeding. I had a friend you fed his lion small goldfish and it seemed to eat so much it died and that worries me. will a lion gorge itself to death on food? <Can, yes... Happens all the time> my lion's stomach is huge right now and obviously at this point I just hope for the best, but for future reference, can I dump a few ghost shrimp in there and hope he eats when he wants, or will he eat them all no matter how hungry he is? <Not a good idea> thanks again for the info...you all are great. <Please... read on WWM re Lionfish Feeding... and don't send such poor/uncorrected grammar to us. Bob Fenner>

Finicky Lionfish!  - 04/04/2006 I was wondering if you could give me a few hints on how to get a Lionfish to eat. I recently purchased one  and he has yet to notice when food is being put in the tank. I am only feeding frozen food at this time to my fish and would like to avoid live fish feeding. So anyway, the other fish always get to the food first and the Lion is left sitting at the bottom a bit confused thus far. I was just curious if you had any hints to try and get the fish to eat or at least get him to notice the food. Is it as simple as putting the food in his face? I appreciate all your help. Thank you! Christian Earle <Well, Christian, it MAY be that easy! Remember, these fishes are ambush predators, and slowly stalk their food. This means that you would be best trying to feed the Lionfish after the other fishes have eaten. You could try placing chunks of food on a wooden BBQ skewer and "dancing" it near the fish to tempt it. Again, I'd do this after all of the other fishes are finished feeding, or they'll go after the Lionfish's food before he does. Alternatively, you could try feeding the fish regularly after the lights go out. They often will go on the prowl just after the lights go out, so it's worth a try. In the end, you just need to stay with it and keep trying. Hang in there! Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

Lionfish Problems - 3/21/2006 Good day! <<Hi Josie!>> Today is day 10 of my Volitans Lionfish eating strike!!! We got him from "a guy" about 2 1/2 months ago.  I have a 50 gallon FO tank with 1 Volitans Lionfish, 1 Yellow Tang, 1 Maroon Clown, 1 Limbaughi Chromis, 2 Turbo Snails, 2 Small Hermit Crabs, 1 Brittle Star, 1 Sandsifting Star, and 1 (illusive) Ghost Crab. <<Your tank is far too small for all those fish.  The tang and Lion need larger quarters, and the maroon clown will wreak havoc on that tank in no time.>> The water parameters right now are SG - 1.022, Temp 79 - 80, Ammonia - 0, Nitrite - 0, pH 8.3, Nitrates - 40 (yes, that is high and we are doing approximately 15% water change every other day to bring that down). <<Likely a cause of the feeding strike.>> The parameters of the tank prior to the Lionfish going on food strike were the same as they are now except the Nitrates were 0.  The Nitrates have shot up over the last 2 - 3 days and we have gotten them down to 40 with the water changes. <<Wow, so they were very high.  Get those levels down, and you may see a return in appetite.>> Anyway, he was on a diet of Freeze Dried Krill and now will not eat it.  We tried raw shrimp soaked in garlic, raw scallops soaked in garlic, raw shrimp no garlic, raw scallops no garlic, and even tried the feeder fish just to trigger a feeding response.  He will hunt it on the feeder stick but will not open his mouth to eat. <<An all-krill diet is linked to lock-jaw.  Do Google this on WWM.>> The LFS said to force feed him.  Now, I don't know about anyone else, but I'm not too keen on force feeding a fish as I seriously doubt that this will make him WANT to eat. <<Can help at times actually.  I would look into other methods/solutions first if you are wary.>> We do have a protein skimmer and have turned it up to try to knock out the Nitrates but it is a slow process. <<Water changes are what you need to do, along with acquiring a larger tank.>> I'm at a loss at this point on trying to get the fish to feed! <<I think the causes are quite clear.>> He has no external signs of anything wrong.  Normal coloring, normal swimming, he hangs out a lot with his head hanging down and this tail up, but this, from what I have seen, is normal for a Lionfish. <<Not necessarily.>> This is my first saltwater tank and have been learning and reading along the way.  The only reason we have the snails, stars, and crabs is as a clean up crew.  We were having an issue with Red Algae and the snails have almost knocked that out entirely. <<It is best to solve the source of such problems, as opposed to adding a Band-Aid-solution.>> Do you have any suggestions that I might be able to do to help this poor fish? <<Larger tank, reduced nitrates, possible iodine supplementation to help with lock-jaw (Google on WWM).>> I didn't intend on keeping him in the first place, he came with the tank, as we had purchased it from a guy in the local area.  We estimate that the Lionfish is about 3 - 5 years old.  No one would take him so we decided to care for him. Thanks a million!!! Josie <<Glad to help.  Lisa.>>
Re: Lionfish Problems, Follow-Up - 3/24/2006
Thank you so much for the advice Lisa! <<You're quite welcome.>> I searched all over the place for any ideas and read just about everything and this was the first time lockjaw came up.  I have begun putting supplements with iodine in the water to try and help alleviate the lockjaw, if that is the case.  I had read that an all krill diet can cause blindness; of course this was after he stopped eating, and had already bought him shrimp and scallops so I can rotate his diet. <<Sounds good.>> I am going to attempt to use a turkey baster and blend up some of the tank water, scallops, and shrimp to force feed him.  These guys used to live in a 29 gallon tank before we bought them and moved them into the 50 gallon tank.  The only additions were the clean up crew.  We are doing water changes every other day to get those nitrates down and it seems to be working.  We are about to increase the sump size from this small 10 gallon one to a large 29 gallon one.  The old tank we got from the guy we are going to convert to a sump for this tank to help keep this one in really good shape. <<Sounds good! Do re-think the tang, though.>> Again, thanks so much!  I will let you know if we were successful on getting the lionfish back to good health. <<Please do!!>> I have tried to give him away several times but no one wants him.  As he came with the tank, I feel obligated to keep him and take care of him, along with the other fish that came with the tank. <<Aww, of course.  Good luck Josie!  Lisa.>>   Josie
Lionfish Update - 3/24/2006
Good day again!!! <<Hey Josie!>> I wanted to give you an update on the lionfish! <<OO, goodie>> Today we got him to eat a piece of shrimp, rather, he opened his mouth and we stuck it in his mouth and he swallowed!!  YAY! <<Great!>> Now, today, he shed some skin.  I read through all the FAQ's and it seems that they do this at times, so I am not as worried about that.  Thank you so much for your help so I can save this poor guy. <<I'm glad to help.>> I'm still doing a lot of water changes; in fact, on Saturday we are going to do a 50% water change to get these nitrates down. <<Sounds great.>> I also read on the FAQ's about bio-balls being a "nitrate factory".  Well, I have bio-balls.  So, I am considering taking an old 39 gallon tank I have and converting that to a sump and using the sand and snails technique mentioned on www.ozreef.com.  The problem is the construction directions are not clear enough for me.  I know how to put the pieces in the tank to get all the sections.  But what is unclear to me is where exactly the sand goes and where does the prefilter go with the snails?  Which chamber??  I assume the first chamber is where the water comes in, then goes to the second chamber where the sand is, then that goes to the third chamber where the water is returned to the tank.  But I don't see where the prefilter goes?  Is it the first chamber, that's what I would assume?  But I'm not big on taking assumptions when lives are at stake. <<Good call.  I am not very familiar with the 'snails' method.  Do search WWM for 'live sump' ideas.>> The return pump I have is a Rio 1700 with a 627 gph flow.  Is that sufficient for a 50 gallon tank and 39 gallon sump? <<You will want other ways of creating flow in your tank.  Search 'closed loop manifold' on WWM.>> Again, thanks so much! <<You're quite welcome.  Lisa.>>

Lion Hunger-Strike  12/24/05 Hello.   <Hi Mike.> Thanks for all the great information on your website. <You are quite welcome and thank you for the kind words.>   I have a question about my lionfish who has decided to stop eating.  He has eaten a total of four silversides over the last 18 days, three times eating one, and once he ate two.  Every other day he has refused food. <I think you should try more of a variety, such as krill, squid and even fresh market prawns, also consider soaking them in a nutritional supplement like Selcon or stuffing the "meat" with some vegetable matter such as Spirulina to ensure nutrition.>   I've had him a year, he has eaten frozen food from the beginning, <That's good.> but this is the second time he has gone on a hunger strike. <Not uncommon with these types of predators.> Last time, he seemed to snap out of it for no reason after about 10 days. <That's about average time, 2 weeks is fairly common.> I'm beginning to get worried due to the length of time the hunger strike has been going on this time.  I've read many helpful articles on your website about possible causes for hunger strikes and have searched for a cause in my tank.  The water conditions seem good (Ammonia - 0; Nitrite - 0; Nitrate 40; spg - 1.020; kH - 10 to 11.). <The nitrate is a bit high, for fish only tanks I like to aim for 20ppm or less.> The only potential cause I can identify is a water change about a month ago where I added water that was too cold and it dropped the temperature of the tank 3 or 4 degrees. <Such a rapid temperature change could stress the animal.> I've resisted using live feeders or shrimp to try to stimulate feeding because I'm afraid that will keep the lionfish from ever going back to frozen food, I don't want to kill the feeders, and I'm worried that the bird wrasse and/or puffers in the tank would just beat the lionfish to the feeders or shrimp anyway.   <Agreed.> Any advice on how I might end this hunger strike would be appreciated. My specific question is, how long can a lionfish go without eating before serious health problems or death is a risk? <I tend to worry after the 2 or 3 weeks mark, but your specimen hasn't gone 18 days without eating anything, it has eaten some which is a good sign. I would try a different variety as I mentioned above and possibly even attempt some night feedings since the majority of these animals are naturally nocturnal.>   I've read and been told conflicting things - from being told that the 18 days is already too long, to being told that a lionfish can go several weeks without food with no adverse health consequences. Thanks.  Mike. <Welcome, Adam J.>

Lionfish Hunger Strike, Stings  11/30/05 Hey Guys,  <Rod> Seems everyone has the same question about Lions.. when they stop eating, they just stop, no question about it. Been feeding silverside, squid, baby octopus, small prawns with shell for months to my Zebra and he just stopped last week, seems he got his jaw locked and took time to get it back into place and has sulked ever since. Touchy guys... my daughter calls him JAWS and when feeding hums the theme to the film as he swims up to get fed... and I know they hurt too, got me once and spent the next hour with my mit in the hottest water I could take - kinda like someone burning your skin while ripping it off too - but he's still a welcome resident of the tank. Ok, some starve for weeks and obviously months (hard to believe) but I'm not too concerned yet, doesn't look thinner just sulking in the corner head-down position.  Would you agree its a hit and miss affair with these touchy guys - with no set remedy to any particular individual or species. I'll keep you posted of the outcome - hope I don't have to go as far as JAWS 2.  Rod  <Keep us posted and ensure that 10% weekly water changes are carried out. James (Salty Dog)>

Frozen Food for Lionfish (Did You Watch it Eat?) - 10/24/05 Hi Guys, Great Site, I have a 50g that has been running for about a year. Just purchased a radiata lionfish (magnificent looking fish and very friendly too) he's (I guess it's a he) only about 2" at the moment. He was eating frozen krill at the shop so I got some of the same brand at the time of purchase.  Twice now in a week I have tried to feed him by simply defrosting the krill in the tank and letting it float around. He shows no interest when its floating around. He does, however, approach it when it has sunk to the sand bed and occasionally snap at some however most of the time he appears to spit it out. I am worried he is not eating enough is their anything I can do to work up his appetite a little? <Did you actually see the lionfish eat the krill or did the shop owner tell you this? You may want to ask the shop owner if the food was prepared any special way, like soaking in vitamins, etc. Other than that, he no longer wants to be a fast food junkie. May have to get him some feeder guppies etc. Not too many people have success in converting lions to frozen/prepared foods. James (Salty Dog)>
Re: Frozen Food Lionfish 11/6/05
Hello Again,  <Hello Dan> Right I got him to eat a lance fish (frozen) about an 1" 1/2 long and he seemed to ingest it all. However I looked at him the next day and he still looked really thin, so that night I fed him another lance fish 1" 1.2 he eat it down (all the way) then I went back to check him ten minutes later and it had been spit out. He is looking thin again. Would you say he spat it out both times??? If so should I be worried?  <I really don't know if he spat out both fish. To comfort yourself and the fish, I'd go buy a freshwater Mollie and feed that to him. Goldfish aren't recommended. James (Salty Dog)> 
Re: Frozen Food Lionfish 11/24/2005
James,  <Daniel> Thanks for all your help he now eats like a marine! I tried squid and he couldn't resist. He now eats anything I put in the tank (krill, chopped muscles, Mysis, squid, octopus)! He's looking really healthy and a little fat! <Good for you, not many people have been able to accomplish the live to frozen transition.  Most lions simply refuse anything that isn't alive.  James (Salty Dog)>

Lion Fish can't eat?  9/22/05 Hello everyone, <Daniel> Thank you for taking the time to read my email.  I've had my Lion fish for about 2 years now, and he's been strong!  He's been eating fine until last night- I put the krill in the tank, he comes right up to it, looks like he's going to eat it, then backs off.  After several minutes of this, I removed the krill, and replaced them with a silver side.  He went right for it, but same result, and he's almost seems frustrated.  Is there a disease that strikes Lions, keeping them from moving their mouths? <Mmm, yes... some deficiency syndromes... too much of the same nutrient-missing foods fed exclusively...> Is there anything that can be done, or do I have to wait it out? Thank you very much, Daniel <Can try vitamin-supplementation, large water changes (I would). Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/lionfdgfaqs.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Lionfish on food strike 7/12/05 Thanks for all the great help you provide.  I am continuing to try to solve a problem with a lionfish that has almost stopped eating.  This lionfish was the first fish in my 250g tank and ate frozen silversides and krill from the start - I would drop the food in front of the lionfish with plastic tongs and he would snap it up.  That went on for a few months at least.  Now, it is difficult to get the lionfish to take any food. <Happens> The last addition to the tank (only 7 total fish) was a porcupine puffer, who is much smaller than the lionfish but typically eager when feeding time comes. <Yes> The lionfish is clearly agitated by the puffer and poses whenever the puffer swims too close too quickly.  The lionfish started to be difficult to feed about the time the puffer came into the tank. <Mmm, coincidence?> I feed the fish one time daily at night, and the lionfish is definitely still interested in food.  But, now when I put silversides or krill in front of him, he just looks at it and watches it drop to the bottom (I distract or isolate the puffer to make sure the lionfish gets a chance at the food).  I am going to try live ghost shrimp to see if that will kick start the lionfish feeding.  If that doesn't work, I plan on trying some live feeders, though I hope not to reach that point because I don't want to get the lionfish reliant on live fish and I don't want to kill the fish that would be its food.  Do you have any suggestions as to how to get this lionfish feeding again, and maybe what the cause of the problem is?  Thanks very much. MCW <You likely will have to separate the Lion, Puffer... You can read re their compatibility, feeding... on WWM. Bob Fenner>

Volitans Lionfish Hello, <Hi> Could you please help me with my lionfish? <Try to> Have a 120-gal FO tank with said lionfish (7") running for over a year without any problems. Last week I made the mistake of adding an auriga butterfly (2"). He started nipping on the lion a day later and I promptly removed him to a another tank. Problem is that the lionfish hasn't eaten in 4 days, he doesn't look skinny but he lies near the bottom most of the time with his spines drawn out. The spines have been out for the last four days. Is there anything that I could do? <I would start by changing 20% of the water.  Don't know your water change schedule, but 10% weekly is recommended.  If you've been feeding him goldfish I'd change to something else, guppies, mollies etc.  A 7" lion does generate a lot of waste.  You don't mention using a protein skimmer or a high grade of activated carbon.  Both of these will help tremendously in water quality which is what I believe the problem is.  How is the nitrate level?  Lionfish are best left to a specie tank only.  James (Salty Dog)> Thanks a ton, keep up the good work!!! Adriel

Lionfish vomiting I have a recently acquired 2" Mombasa Lionfish. <Small!> It's been in the tank (parameters all good) for about a month and has been eating well on ghost shrimp. I've noticed that every now and again it will thrust itself violently a short distance through the water and open its mouth. Sometimes this results in a white film or slime coming out of its mouth. Is this normal and what would make my lionfish do this? Ewan <Perhaps the shells of the ghost shrimp are proving too difficult to digest? I might try switching to whole meat, wiggled on a feeding stick. Bob Fenner> 

FO Marine Filtration, Feeding the Lions Hiya, <Hello there> We have a 75 gal. tank w/ one Fluval 304 and one Fluval 404, very thin substrate, weekly 10% water changes, one Picasso Trigger and one V. Lionfish, now for the question...is the filtration system(s) enough or should we be using something else due to the kids' waste output? <Mmm, could> The Picasso is so easy to feed a variety of frozen food and live gut loaded occasionally as a treat. He'll eat anything but flake food. Now the Lion is a little tougher switching over. Is time a factor here? <Sometimes...> We've had him for one week tomorrow. He's hasn't gone for anything frozen... ya know, the I'm gonna eat dance and then realizes it's frozen and snubs it??? We will try to starve him, but what is a recommended amount of time for the starvation? <Depends on size, state of condition... weeks> He's about 4 inches long, just a baby. We lost a Lion a few years back due to lack of knowledge, and with the help of your website, we are learning quite a lot about all things marine, and we thank you for that! Any help w/ the above is greatly appreciated.  Thanks Jenn & Bob <Glad to share. Bob Fenner> 

Lionfish pair Mac: Brett again.... <Hi Brett, I'm so sorry for the delay, I have been dealing with migraines and haven't been on top of my game. Please forgive.> So I think you were right and I have a male and female lion.  <Anything is possible Brett.>  They literally "cuddle" together 75% of the time. It's pretty neat to watch, actually. The little one folds all of "her" ??? fins down and snuggles under Big Daddy's large fins. Is there any way to sex them, or will it always be a mystery to me?  <Surgically for sure but I don't believe there is any other way to sex them at this time. But even if you don't have a male and female its lovely that you have a compatible pair.> Also, at my LFS, they said I might try soaking the ghost shrimp in a garlic stuff for more nutrients.  <I like using garlic with my frozen foods although it can be a tad smelly. I also use vitamins in the frozen foods.>  I did this, but they also recommended either adding it directly to the tank or soaking my other foods in this.  <I am always cautious about adding things straight to the tank. At least when it's in the food you know a lot of it is getting inside them.>  What are your thoughts on garlic additives? Do I run the risk of fouling the water?  <I would think only if you way over dose the garlic. I do know of some skimmers that stink like garlic pheweee.>  I run an EcoSystem system with a refugium underneath the tank and do a 10% change every week or 8-9 days.  <I would continue with the garlic in the food method.> Also, the smaller lion has now recognized me as a food source and is taking frozen foods.  <Wonderful!!!.>  He/she loves Mysis now, but I have not gotten them to try Krill yet, so that is why I am still doing some ghost shrimp.  <Keeping some ghost shrimp in the diet is fine but you want a way to give them a big variety of meaty foods. Squid, silversides etc in frozen form. A large variety of foods will keep them very healthy.> Hopefully soon I can be on a complete frozen and meaty diet for them.  <So very thrilled for you. Congrats and keep me updated, MacL> Talk to you soon! Brett

Adding a new lionfish Hey Mac- <Hey Brett, so great to hear from you again!> So I finally got Big Daddy (my adult volitans lionfish) a buddy.... Baby Daddy (I know...) <LOVE IT!!!> This is a really juvenile Antennata lionfish. <I love antennata's but they are a species that in my experience are very shy and need major adjustment time.> I have a couple of questions, though because I want to make sure I get him accustomed to his new home appropriately. Unfortunately, I do not have the space in my apartment, so a quarantine tank is not an option, so he went directly into the tank *With appropriate acclimation procedures. He was visible for the entire first day hiding in a covering. The second day, he remained hidden behind the rocks, and he completely Disappeared today. I went short of removing the rocks to look for him, because I was convinced Big Daddy ate him. (BTW, I think that would be really physically impossible for him to do). <Sadly I have seen lionfish eat things that there was no way they could swallow. Seen them choke to death doing it as well. One of my most unusual memories is pulling a panther grouper out of a Lionfishes mouth because he was stuck in it. Not a fond memory lol.>  I found him tonight when the lights when off. I tried feeding him with the lights off, but he is really scared of my coming to the tank... <They really are a very shy creature. Absolutely gorgeous though. To my mind, if he is hiding only during the day he really is avoiding the new "scenery" and not Big Daddy. The good news about this is that he should come around.> Without being able to be close to the tank and watch, I have NO idea if he is eating this late-night snack I have put in. Since he won't come out in the day, I can't be certain he is making the switch to frozen foods... (Which, I am now soaking in vitamins and providing a nice variety.) <You might need to provide him with some live foods while he makes the adjustment over to the frozen. In my experience though, Lionfish will learn from other lions about potential food sources, i.e. the frozen foods.> What should I do to make sure he can eat? Keep trying? Feed at night like I am? Should I try some live food? A few ghost shrimp until he gets used to me? If use ghost shrimp...how long will they stay alive in the marine tank? Is it a matter of minutes, hours or days? (This matters as to when I put them in, of course.) <In my experience the ghost shrimp will live a couple of hours in a saltwater tank. I think you could safely put them in when you see him come out at night.> I hadn't found too much information on the site about feeding a juvenile that remains completely hidden during anything but almost complete darkness...Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated. <Sometimes you can fool the fish with a red light. Meaning you can see them when the red light is on but they think its total darkness. This might give you a better handle on how he is doing. And maybe allow you to make sure he doesn't have any marks on him. And for what its worth don't panic yet, these guys as you know can go a long time without eating. Although, like you, I really hate to see them not eat.> Thanks, Mac....your suggestions are always right on target! Have a great week.... <Gosh Brett, thank you, that's very kind of you to say. Please if he hasn't eaten in a week let me know so we can brain storm and get some ideas going on how to get him more settled. Mac>
Lionfish update
MacL- I just realized tonight while I was feeding my lionfish that I had never updated you in regards to my question! My lionfish made a COMPLETE recovery!!!! I cannot thank you enough for your suggestions. Just as you said, only time would heal his jaw. I tried the live brine, but nobody in the tank touched them! I couldn't believe it...it seems they are way too accustomed to frozen foods now....<That's actually a good thing> and I was slightly disappointed, because I love seeing the fish get excited over live food, it usually entices them to be very active. With my lion, he tried of course to eat, but his jaw wouldn't allow it. Eventually, I saw him get a few small Mysis shrimp, and I immediately stuck a frozen krill in the tank, held it in my hand until he took it very gently. <WONDERFUL!!! SO GREAT!> For the next few days, he got so determined I think to eat, that he did...and within a week his jaw looked better! <Healed, I'm so happy for you> Anyway, when you get a chance, I was wondering if you could advise me on creating a staple diet for him. I feed only krill and Mysis, and I fear that is not a balanced diet. (he actually takes dry food sometimes, as well...weird.) What can I feed him to make sure he stays healthy and around for a long time?? <<Mostly meat based foods, perhaps a variety of frozen food and I might consider putting vitamins like Selcon or Zo? Or SeaChem's brand so that he gets extra vitamins.> Thanks again for all your help and encouragement a few months back. <Brett you made my day. MacL> Brett Chisholm
Lionfish updates
As is to be expected these days....I have another question... :) At least I am doing my part to keep you busy! <You are fine Brett, I just hope we can help you!> The juvenile antennata has lost some of his coloring, and he pretty much looks sickly to me. :( He really hasn't been eating what I think he should. (Only that ONE ghost shrimp the whole week.) <Stress will do that for him. Also you might want to check your water quality, you are probably putting in more food which could mean problems.> My problem has been getting the shrimp in the day from the LFS and then not having any left in the tank when Baby Daddy is active at night, since Big Daddy has eaten them all. <Right and that's also putting a lot of ammonia into the tank from Big Daddy munching down.> So...to solve my problem, I bought a little 2.5 gallon aquarium with a filter to keep ghost shrimp in. (Is this excessive care for one fish?) <No its the sign of someone who cares!!!> Anyway, I figured this way I could really gut-load the hell outta the shrimp and pop them into the big tank as needed when I see Baby Daddy in the open... <Makes sense but you'll also have to deal with Big Daddy cause now he's used to eating A LOT. I really think you need to think about a divider while they eat.> My question is, since I went ahead and set up this little tank, are ghost shrimp the best (I know they are still not very good) but the best freshwater food source for the time being while I try and get him accustomed to frozen food? <I think they are going to be the easiest for you to feed. You can always try mollies, guppies or goldfish but I'm always worried about doing that. The one thing mollies have going for them is that they can survive if properly acclimated to salt water.> Since I have the filtered tank  up and running, is there a better food source? <I'd stick with the ghost shrimp simply because you know he is definitely eating them.> Anyway, I am hoping this does this trick, and I have two fat Lionfishes to report on in the near future.... <Me too and I really want to know if this helps.> Let me know, as always, if you have any questions... <Brett, if the antennata is feeling overwhelmed you may end up having to permanently separate them. A picture of them size wise would help me but you'll have to use your own thoughts on this. The thing is you have a new lion who would probably be stressed just being new to your tank, much less having the feeding difficulties. Keep up the good work Brett, you are on the right path I think. MacL> Thanks again! Brett

Combining lionfish As always, thanks for your quick reply. It's very appreciated by all of us who care and worry about our pets. <I appreciate you saying that and then I don't answer all weekend cause I'm dealing with soccer, Argh.  Talk about shooting one's self in the foot ha ha ha> Anyway, I followed your advice and threw some ghost shrimp in the tank. <Good> I observed Baby Daddy eat 1 only, but at least I saw him eat. <Definitely good.> Big Daddy, of course, devoured most of the rest, but I am sure both got some during the night while the light was off...in the morning I found no dead shrimp. <I'm sure they did as well.> The juvenile antennata (do you like how I try to add a bit of professionalism to my query while at the same time, still having referred to him as Baby Daddy, and lost all credibility!?<ha ha ha) has also slowly started coming out of his "shell" so to speak and can be visible several times throughout the day, and he sits on the sand at night when the light is off. <That's really good, he's becoming more accustomed to the  tank.> However, he is still a fainter color then when I purchased him from the store. <I read this before I hit the sack last night and was thinking about it. I think you might try using something to separate the two of them when you feed. I was thinking, perhaps an acrylic sheet or egg crate or something like that that you can put temporarily in the tank to divide them while they eat?> I think Big Daddy is trying to show he is boss every now and then, and it seems to spook the juvenile when he comes up upon him. <Territorial thing most likely.> However, I still have faith that Big D. will not try and eat him, because he has never come close to trying to eat the Cardinalfish or flame angel he is housed with. <I've seen lionfish eat things that are much too large for their mouths.> The only other fish in the tank is a Rabbitfish, and I would say the juvenile lion has a larger body size, excluding fins, than the flame angel. I am confident if I keep Big Daddy fed, he will stay away from terrorizing Baby Daddy. (One can hope.)<I've seen tanks with multiple types of lionfish work successfully, if you can get them both settled in.>  I am going to try and gut load some ghost shrimp this evening to give another feeding....do I just try and feed them marine flake food? <You can.> Should I add vitamins to their water as well, or does that do nothing? <You can soak the food in the vitamins as well.> Also, just FYI, the ghost shrimp lasted at least 6-7 hours in my tank. I didn't see any after that point, so I don't know if they would have made it any longer...<I really don't know how long they will live in marine waters, hmmm . . . > Not really any major issues here....just giving you an update, which I think you had requested... <Absolutely and I do appreciate you doing it. Aren't lionfish amazing??> Have a great holiday, and I am sure I will be talking to you in the future! <Why thank you kindly and for yourself as well. <MacL>

Lionfish update Hey Mac - It's Brett again. <Hi Brett so nice to hear from you. I am so so sorry for the delay in getting with you. Computer problems : {> Thankfully, everything is going well with the new lion after a month. He has a great appetite, but still is hesitant to try frozen foods. He does LOVE his ghost shrimp though. I am trying to gut load them when I have time. :-\ I am hoping he makes the switch soon. How long before I should start getting worried that ghost shrimp will no longer be enough? <I think as long as you keep gutloading them you should be okay Brett, I know you'd like to see him eat something else!> One night, he ate so many I got worried, because he couldn't swallow anymore and had the antenna of the shrimp hanging out of his mouth for a couple of hours. He is a glutton and a half! <EEEK that's not good you might have to start limiting how many you put in there to control his diet.> On another note, he and Big Daddy get along SO well. I am not sure if this is normal behavior, so I included a few pictures... They seem to be attached at the hip some days. I would say over 70% of the time, they are actually touching when in the tank. I have never personally seen lions act like this, and I thought it was weird do to their size difference... What do you think? <I think lions are for the most part very peaceful, and I'm tremendously glad they are working out so well for you.> Thanks for your help, talk to you soon I am sure. Hope everything is well. <Nothing a new laptop wouldn't solve ha ha ha. Brett I'm so glad and I so thank you for the updates. Please keep me in mind as they grow up together! Remember too that at some point they will get huge and possibly need to move to another tank.>  Brett 

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